Church entities connect to make a difference


Upolu, Samoa

Eleven Sanitarium employees experienced a side of Samoa that went far beyond the pictures tourists see in travel magazines when they partnered with local communities and ADRA New Zealand in an ADRA Connections trip.

It’s a blessing to partner with an organisation like Sanitarium. While our organisations are different, we share a similar purpose and a shared passion for the wellbeing of families and communities.

The international community project was part of the Spirit of Sanitarium Awards (SOSA), Sanitarium’s annual employee reward program, which recognises employees who bring to life the company’s values of care, courage, humility, integrity and passion. As part of the awards program, each year SOSA recipients have the opportunity to be part of an international community project.

“Our annual SOSA project is all about recognising the special people within Sanitarium who truly enact Sanitarium’s values in their everyday lives,” Corporate Communications manager Julie Praestiin said. “These international projects are a real highlight for our teams, and give us an opportunity to partner with the community to make a difference by working together.” 

Mrs Praestiin also said the ADRA Connections program reflects “Sanitarium’s commitment to health, nutrition and wellbeing in the community, and also built relationships and connections within the team and with ADRA.”

The SOSA team visited four different villages that are part of ADRA’s existing work in Samoa, assisting with nutrition and food hygiene education as well as helping to paint newly-built market stalls. These stalls enable locals to sell produce grown as part of the ADRA program, with Sanitarium donating $15,000 towards the organisation’s work in the region.

The team also helped serve breakfast at three local schools to more than 700 students. Students at each school received pencil cases, Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon t-shirts and sports equipment for their school.

After breakfast, the sea of yellow and red school uniforms turned to bright blue as the children proudly displayed their new TRYathlon t-shirts. A game of rugby then ensued, with the Sanitarium team quickly learning firsthand Samoa’s passion or rugby.

For Keith Blackburne, an accountant from Sanitarium New Zealand’s Auckland head office, it was moments like these that were the real highlight. “I enjoyed letting down our walls a bit and playing,” he said. “The children and community wanted to see us get up and dance and play, so that’s what we did.”

ADRA New Zealand CEO Matthew Siliga said he and his team were excited by the opportunity to host an ADRA Connections trip for Sanitarium. “Our ADRA Connections NZ trips are about everyday Kiwis—and Aussies, in this case—partnering with communities overseas to make a life-changing difference,” he said.

“It’s a blessing to partner with an organisation like Sanitarium. While our organisations are different, we share a similar purpose and a shared passion for the wellbeing of families and communities.”

Working in partnership with the New Zealand Government, ADRA NZ has an agricultural and small business training project in Samoa that targets 1000 of the most vulnerable and disaster-affected families.

The ADRA Connections trip offers opportunities for organisations to help ADRA enhance its impact, making more of a difference by working together. “This partnership with Sanitarium has enabled ADRA New Zealand to increase the scope and impact of the existing project,” said Mr Siliga.

Eseta Soaika, a machine operator at Sanitarium’s Cooranbong Factory in New South Wales, said it really hit home to see the tangible difference that ADRA’s programs are making to people’s everyday lives. “We were able to make a difference in the lives of the children in each of the schools and in the communities we visited while we were there,” she said. “This trip was an amazing experience and the memories will stay with me for years to come.”

If you are interested in being part of an ADRA Connections trip, visit <> or <>.