SERF helping from Hari Hari to Haast and beyond


Evangelization has many faces say, Father Mike Mahoney, the parish priest of South Westland.

Franz Josef is part of the parish, and there are over 200 people there who have lost their jobs because there are no longer any foreign tourists.

Many of these migrant workers cannot go home because there are no flights.

In some cases their rent has been lowered, in others, not.

The parish takes an active part in the South Westland Emergency Foodbank Relief scheme (SERF).

SERF supports over a hundred people and families in towns from Hari Hari to Haast.

Food providers have been generous, so SERF provides food parcels.

Funds are also available from Civil Defence.

SERF can give a person or family a food voucher which they can redeem at the supermarket.

The receipt returns to SERF so that they can keep an eye on how the money is being used.

On Friday afternoons people needing advice can come to the Medical Centre in Franz Josef where Fr Mike is available to point them towards whatever they might need.

For ten years, Fr Mike, who worked for many years in Brazil, has gone to Queenstown on the fourth Sunday of each month to celebrate a mass in Portuguese for the sizeable Brazilian community there.

On the following Monday, he helps to sort out the many problems that working migrants have.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have lost their jobs and have no way of paying rent or sustaining themselves.

The government and city council have good initiatives in place to help.

And so does the Church; the Marist Fathers have made available $50,000 to assist the Brazilian community.

Currently, ten are being assisted with rent and living expenses, to the tune of $10,000 a month.

Rent for a small house is $500 a week, and for a room, between $100 and $200 a week.

Vagner provides an example of what can be done. He lost his job, but he enrolled in a four-month $3,900 language course, which gives him a 5-month visa.

He studies every morning finishing at 1 pm, so he is free to work in the afternoon and evening.

Through his improved English, he will get a better job, as well as being on the spot to apply for anything available.

He will undoubtedly find work in the next fortnight.



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