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Unsung Heroes: The Impact of Volunteers in Community Refugee Sponsorship


In the compassionate landscape of humanitarian efforts, community sponsorship of refugees stands as a beacon of hope and solidarity. Nowhere is this more evident than in Aotearoa New Zealand, where volunteers play a pivotal role in the resettlement process. These unsung heroes exemplify the spirit of empathy and altruism, embodying the nation's commitment to providing a haven for those fleeing, due to desperate circumstances. 


Volunteers and communities at the heart of Community Refugee Sponsorship 

Community sponsorship is a unique model that empowers individuals, whānau and community organisations to directly support refugees in their journey towards integration and self-sufficiency. In Aotearoa New Zealand, this approach has gained momentum, with communities rallying together to welcome and support refugee families as they rebuild their lives in a new country.  At the heart of community sponsorship are the volunteers who dedicate their time, resources, and expertise to ensure the successful integration of refugees into New Zealand society.

 

From offering practical assistance with housing and employment to providing emotional support, cultural orientation, and connection to Te Ao Māori, these volunteers serve as invaluable guides and mentors, helping former refugees navigate the complexities of their new environment. 

 

Whiria te tangata – weaving the people together

What better opportunity to acknowledge, celebrate and thank volunteers than during National Volunteer Week Te Wiki Tūao ā-Motu? This week honours the collective energies and mana of all volunteers in Aotearoa New Zealand. They grow our people, open minds, open hearts and create joy.

 

This year’s theme of National Volunteer Week Te Wiki Tūao ā-Motu is ‘Whiria te tangata – weaving the people together’. Volunteering weaves us together, strengthening the fabric of our community.

 

One of the most remarkable aspects of community sponsorship is its ability to foster meaningful connections between former refugees and their host communities. By forging bonds based on mutual respect and understanding, volunteers not only facilitate the integration process but also enrich their own lives through the diverse perspectives and experiences brought by former refugees. Moreover, community sponsorship promotes a sense of collective responsibility and solidarity, challenging prevailing narratives of division and exclusion. By mobilising grassroots efforts to support former refugees, communities in Aotearoa New Zealand are sending a powerful message of unity and compassion, reaffirming their commitment to upholding human rights and dignity for all.

 

As Aotearoa New Zealand continues to welcome refugees through community sponsorship, it is essential to recognise and celebrate the vital role of volunteers in this endeavour. Their dedication, compassion, and resilience serve as a testament to the power of grassroots action in creating positive change and building inclusive communities. As we honour the contributions of these unsung heroes, let us reaffirm our commitment to building a world where everyone, regardless of their background or circumstances, can thrive and fulfill their potential.

  

The mahi involved at HOST International Aotearoa centres on our values of ngākau aroha (compassion), kanorau (diversity), ngākau pono (intergrity), whakaute/mana (respect) and auaha (innovation). These values represent how we work in Aotearoa, striving to provide opportunitites for economic, community and social participation for former refugees and migrants, overall creating a sense of belonging and a sense of place - tūrangawaewae. Through these values, and the work that we do, we are grateful for the special role that volunteers play within the Community Refugee Sponsorship programme. Thank you all for the difference you make in and for our communities!

 

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata he tangata.

What is the most important thing? It is people, it is people it is people.

 


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