Lockdown Heroes - Kootuitui ki Papakura
Ferila Matua-Kuresa spent a lot of lockdown on the phone. Hours upon hours upon hours. She says, “You might think what you’re doing is small, but for the people you’re talking with, it can be huge.
She was calling on behalf of Kootuitui ki Papakura, an organisation that supports six Papakura schools with a programme of health, educational and whanau assistance. In lockdown they’d been funded to help families from the six schools by providing them with essentials like food, hygiene and baby products.
Ferila says “We started calling from a list of whanau that Kootuitui ki Papakura had connections with and rang them to discuss their needs.”
“Some wouldn’t answer the phone because they didn’t know who was calling. So we texted and told them who we were. We wanted to know how many kids they had and just have a friendly chat. Soon we heard the stories about themselves. Some were getting depressed, some needed supplies, some just needed someone to talk to outside the family bubble."
Then Ferila and her co-worker Tamara, rang families of the 6 schools that could be most at risk. Finally they contacted all the local families that reached out to Kootuitui ki Papakura on their Facebook page. It added up to hundreds of hours on the phone.
Ferila says, “I was pretty blind to start with. I thought I was in a crap situation. I have a heart condition and so does one of my children. Being stuck at home I was going crazy with my kids, but ringing around I found out so many were in the same place."
"I wasn’t alone and it gave me something else to think about"
Kootuitui ki Papakura collected data as they went, enabling them to tailor their deliveries to specific needs, grocery boxes for families that couldn’t get out of the house, vouchers for others with health or baby needs. Kootuitui ki Papakura had essential service provider status and Jan, who volunteered her husband Waihou. were the two essential workers who tirelessly did the lockdown delivery runs.
Additional donations enabled the small team to add 200 whanau to the 150 they were contracted to support. “When you think of all the individual conversations you can’t imagine how many hours it took.”
Ferila says so many people were really, really, grateful. “I had one lady who sounded like she was about to cry. She, like so many, was struggling with everyone at home. Some whanau amongst the 350 were really large households. Supplies that normally might last a week were running out in days so an offer of help was a lifeline”
By the end of lockdown Kootuitui ki Papakura were able to look back at their efforts with a sense of pride. For Ferila too there was a sense of pride and the knowledge that her effort had helped her too. “I had someone to talk to and that gave me a feel good feeling. It was simply nice to know I could help out in just some simple way.
National Volunteer Week is a time to showcase the many individuals that came together, like the Kootuitui whanau, to support their local communities, Who was your Ferile, Tamara and Waihou in your community?
If you want to help others or a cause take a look at our current volunteering opportunities to help make a difference in your community. Or if you are a non-profit organisation and need some helpers, you can find out how to add your volunteer listings here. For corporates, take a look at our employee volunteering programme to see how we can help your team help the community. Otherwise, feel free to contact us. We’d love to hear from you.
Te Hua o te Mahi Tahi - The benefit of working together