Lovely seeing everyone who got to our party on Thursday night. The buzz in the room was tremendous and the food and drink seemed to go down a treat!
My only regret is so many of our favourite people came that I couldn’t get to talk to you all – I’m so sorry! Thanks to Green MP Julie Ann Genter, Councillor Mike Lee, Local Board members Simon Randall, Pippa Coom, Christopher Dempsey and Jesse Chalmers for being with us, plus Stephen Town and staff from NZTA and AT who we have enjoyed working with this year.
Special thanks to Diana Swarbrick and her crew from Bikes for Refugees who stole everyone’s hearts and minds as we heard how Diana pulled together a team at the Mangere Refugee Centre to gather in, repair, refurbish and distribute over 150 donated bikes to refugees who have settled in Auckland. The Immigration Dept, which runs the Refugee Centre, had no budget to help – the refugee bike programme is evidence of the perserverance, ingenuity, and can-do drive of Diana and the Refugee as Survivors’ team. We It was compelling to hear from former refugee, Faisel, (now living in Grey Lynn), about how his donated bike has transformed his life, connecting him with classes, shops and friends.
Dr Aviz, also a former refugee and now working for Refugees as Survivors, gave us the bigger view of how vital bikes are for fitness and mental health for people who arrive at the Centre with no means to get out and connect with all that Auckland has to offer. And volunteer Mike put the call out for more drop off and storage places around Auckland for donated bikes, donations of bike parts and helmets and volunteers to help repair bikes.
Adding class to the night was Susan Barter, who displayed her elegant jackets for cycling and the office – one of which she donated to raise money for the Bike project.
The raffle of a wheelbarrow of goodies raised over $600.00 on the night, and more donations have been promised. It was won by NZTA’s gorgeous Jala Shekho, who arrived in NZ with her family as a refugee. You can imagine the applause when I announced that Jala wished to donate her prize back to Bikes for Refugees. Dr Aziv can’t’ wait to put the barrow to use in his vege gardening classes at the Mangere Centre, and the goodies will be re-raffled to fund bike parts and helmets.
Here’s our bank account for those who bought tickets on the night and want to pay on-line, and for others who missed the event, or came and would like to donate for this hugely worthy cause – 38 9001 0980291 00 – Please put CAA in the first box and BikesForR in the second when you make your donation.
This may well be the most life-changing gift you make this Christmas!