Christchurch-based Christian World Service has just kicked off their annual appeal after a year notable for earthquakes, local and international. From Haiti to Christchurch New Zealand’s southernmost aid and development agency has had an incident packed year. Their first quake experience started in January when Haiti was hammered by a horrific 7.0 earthquake. That quake killed about 250,000 and left over one million people homeless and in terrible temporary shelter. CWS immediately launched an appeal for Haiti where they already had local and international partners working on aid and development projects.
In March CWS media officer, Greg Jackson was seconded to Haiti on a fact finding trip providing media and diplomatic advice to John Nduna, head of one of the world’s top three aid agencies the ACT (Action by Churches Together) Alliance. Back in New Zealand he took his first hand stories of hope amongst the ruins of Haiti on the road as part of a CWS tour visiting all the main centres.
“Dunedin, Wellington, Auckland all have harbours and hills like Port Au Prince in Haiti – it was quite easy to get people to visualise what they would look like after such a big quake.
“Ironically the only place the scenario did not occur to me was Christchurch where it did happen,” he said.
Well before the Christchurch quake CWS staff had already settled on an iconic image of a Haitian mother bathing her baby in the ruins of Port Au Prince to be the key to their annual fundraising Christmas appeal.
The full appeal can be found at: www.christmasappeal.org.nz
Since 1945 when the first appeal was launched for war ravaged Greece the appeals have been the major fundraising focus for CWS. The first media publicity for the first appeal appeared in the Christchurch Press on December 15, 1945.
The Christchurch quake hit the group’s Manchester Street offices hard and they were not deemed safe to use for a month. Even now just weeks from Christmas, big sheets of plywood are still standing in for windows shattered by the quake.
One of the unexpected results of the quake was that donations for flood ravaged Pakistan surged in an apparent reminder that Cantabrians were still empathising with the rest of the world.
CWS staff member, Nick Clarke who had substantial quake damage to his home went to flood ravaged Pakistan to help out there with relief. Once there he sent an email noting that: “I don’t have Internet email in Kaiapoi but I’ve got it here in Islamabad.”
CWS national director, Pauline McKay said that the responses to Haiti and Pakistan emergencies during what has been a trying year for many was a reminder that generosity is part of the New Zealand psyche. “In global terms New Zealanders rank toward the top of the scale for generosity and this year which has been beyond difficult for many of us has again been a reminder of that generosity of spirit,’’ said Ms McKay.
The CWS Christmas Appeal theme of “Share the Care” is based around images from Haiti and has an overall theme of health and healing. It spotlights some of the positive work and results that CWS and its supporters and partners have been making possible for the last 65 years.