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CWS Congratulates…Fionnaigh McKenzie and the Epsom Community Presbyterian Church

These two fantastic supporters gave it their all recently fundraising for CWS. 
Fionnaigh McKenzie overcame a prolapsed disk to swim the 2.8km Auckland Harbour Crossing, raising funds for CWS’s Nicargua partner, CEPAD.  Fionnaigh, 27, who works for NZAID, attends St Andrew’s on the Terrace in Wellington which supports CWS.  Two years ago, Fionnaigh was inspired by CEPAD leaders who spoke at her church.

Fionnaigh suffered the back injury last December, leaving her unable to do most forms of exercise for many months.  Swimming was the only time she wasn’t in pain.  This led to many hours swimming back and forth in a pool.  When she got bored of this, she decided to give ocean swimming a go but had to first overcome her fear of deep water.  Once her back improved, she decided to do the 2.8km Auckland Harbour Crossing as a fundraiser for CEPAD.  


As a teenager, Fionnaigh spent six months as an exchange student in Costa Rica, close to the Nicaragua border, and was shocked by the poverty she saw in rural communities.  In 2006, Fionnaigh McKenzieFionnaigh heard CEPAD former director Gilberto Aguirre and executive director Damaris Albuquerque speak at St Andrew’s on The Terrace.  She was inspired by the way the gospel was lived out through their work serving poor communities and how they empowered people to carry out their own development.

Swimming conditions for the November 16 were good, although the water was choppy in the middle of the harbour.   She emerged from the sea after an hour and 18 minutes, slowed by the wind and not managing to swim in a straight line.   The worst part was entering the Viaduct where the water suddenly became smellier.  Swimmers emerged from the water with a coating of slime.
Fionnaigh accomplished her three goals – to finish, not to come last (she was 1228th out of 1269 finishers) and to raise over $1000 for CEPAD.  Fionnaigh has pledges of $1477. 


“It was great to be able to undertake a personal challenge and extend it to be able to help others as well.  Friends, family and colleagues have been incredibly generous in supporting me and I am thrilled to be able to pass this money on to CEPAD to contribute to the wonderful work they do in Nicaragua,” Fionnaigh says.

At the Epsom Community Church, in Auckland on November 15, talented performers sang, acted and danced to raise funds for a refugee and displaced people’s programme in Darfur, west Sudan.  Church members were so moved by the stories emerging from CWS-Caritas appeal for Darfur, they put on a fundraising concert. 

All the entertainers were magnificent and were very much appreciated by the audience, organiser Ian Boshier said.  The Sudanese children were wonderful, with dancing that touched the hearts of everyone.

The NCA Darfur emergency relief programme in west Sudan keeps 250,000 people alive and is led by Mt Roskill’s Wayne Mitchell who says Darfur is his most challenging humanitarian operation.  In Darfur, a number of people equal to the population of New Zealand rely on aid and 300,000 have been killed in fighting.

Among the variety of talented performers were the local Sudanese community, a pipe organist, South Korean pianists, the Bay Singers, a Chinese opera singer and a skit by Beryl Te Wiata – widow of singer Inia and mother of actor Rima.

NCA Darfur is supported by CWS and Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand through their international emergency alliances.

Ian said the situation in Darfur could not be ignored.  “We in developed countries want to show our solidarity with people who have been internally displaced or made refugees; who are suffering in a war they didn’t create.”

CWS says a big thank you to the people and organisations which fundraise to battle poverty.


20 November 2008