The Adventist Development and Relief Agency in New Zealand (ADRA NZ) with The Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing Company have set up a Café in a tough neighbourhood of Christchurch to help those affected by the recent earthquake.
The “ADRA Oasis Café” has now become an important focal point for social activity in the suburb of Aranui. A community badly damaged by the recent Christchurch earthquake.
We see this as an ideal way for the healing process to take place, especially since this location is still without power, water and sanitation
Meals are provided from early morning until late evening. A team of volunteers from Seventh-day Adventist churches are rostered to serve a range of hot and cold meals in the parking lot of the Aranui Seventh-day Adventist church.
“We see this as an ideal way for the healing process to take place, especially since this location is still without power, water and sanitation,” said ADRA NZ team leader Victoria Fray.
ADRA NZ has a deliberate plan to facilitate interaction between staff and patrons. They’re wanting to improve communication between those most effected by disruptions of infrastructure.
Patrons of the “ADRA Oasis Café” are from a wide cross section of society, but they are all agreed that the opportunity to gather together and just sit and chat gives them a strong sense of belonging. This provides an ideal opportunity to share their challenges with each other.
Brian and Jim had wandered around for days looking for suitable accommodation, deciding that a tent would have to be their only choice. With no transport and not enough money for a family tent they arrived at the café to revaluate their situation. An ADRA NZ team member offered them a tent that had just been donated by someone from the community.
Yesterday a face painting team arrived and after a few hours many children were transformed into their favourite super hero’s. The decorations amused and amazed their thankful parents.
“This is what makes us proud of our country,” said Marlene, who offered one of the staff her mobility scooter for a short ride. “There have been people who I had never met who have called on me regularly, making sure that I’m safe and well. The other day a young lady gave me fresh muffins from the caravan, I didn’t even have to get off my scooter,” she added.
Services will soon return to Aranui and houses will have water and power but many of the “regulars” have promised to keep coming to the “ADRA Oasis Café” as long as it operates. “It is like a pub with no beer,” said someone in a group, who a few days ago had never met his neighbours despite only a single house between them.
Aranui is a tough neighbourhood with social and physical problems. But if a few free meals can make a difference in such a short time—then the outlook for the local community is bright indeed.
If you would like to support the work of ADRA in New Zealand and the “ADRA Oasis Café,” go to <adra.org.nz>.