A Matou Mahi

Mercy in Action


Refugee Support

Refugee support is “a Visitation experience.” One day, the words behind our eyes will take form and the God within each one of us will leap in enriched expansion.

reaching toward
words locked behind our eyes.
Fettered tongues on Visitation.
It is a long journey from Syria to Aotearoa New Zealand.
Oceans of memories between.

I am a volunteer for the NGO, English Language Partners, New Zealand’s largest settlement agency.
The group offers a community-based volunteer service that provides English Language skills and social support to adult refugees from non-English-speaking backgrounds.

A network of ELP Centres across the country, offers programmes that help bridge the barriers of fear, loneliness and isolation faced by many new residents in a new land.

Established in the mid-1970’s by social service groups and churches to meet the needs of socially isolated women from South East Asia, the Centres were initially funded by charitable donations and local groups. Government funding was obtained in 1980.

Today, the ELP Centres offer free English tuition through home tutoring and community social English groups to refugees from around the world.

The Centres network with other settlement service providers to ensure wrap-around support, but… New Zealand’s annual quota of 750 refugees has not been increased for 30 years! We are a small country, but not that small!

Various groups are putting pressure on the New Zealand government to increase the quota and enable more refugees and asylum seekers to come to this country.

For me, this ministry is a Visitation experience. The meeting of two women. Both of us learners.
One day, the words behind our eyes will take form and the God within each one of us will leap in enriched expansion.

This simple ministry resonates with our 2014 Chapter focus ‘Whakawhanaungatanga – making right relationship with God, self, other, earth’. It also enfolds the Chapter call ‘to stand with vulnerable communities’ and ‘widen Mercy circles’.

In each encounter, I experience Atawhai Atu, Atawhai Mai – Mercy given, Mercy received and I am once again enveloped in the gift of manaakitanga – loving hospitality of heart and mind.

A smile.
Three kisses shared. Arabic on my ear.
The journey to new worlds within