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Bringing hope to refugee and immigrant communities in The West

The Henderson-based organisation HOPE New Zealand does exactly what its name suggests. It brings hope, friendship and practical support to former refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in The West.

‘We work to improve the lives of these new arrivals as they find their place within The West’s vibrant communities,’ explains HOPE’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Malik Khurram. HOPE’s members come from an incredible range of nations, including Columbia, Pakistan, the Pacific Islands, China and beyond.

The organisation runs various programmes and activities to help refugees and immigrants settle into their new lives. There’s advice and support on issues like housing, benefits and healthcare. HOPE also runs a food watch programme, delivering food parcels to locals. Around 6,000 food parcels are delivered yearly, filling hungry bellies and connecting families to their community.

Just as important is the friendship and fellowship offered by HOPE. New immigrants and refugees are often isolated. Language barriers can make it hard for them to make new friends and connect with others. HOPE brings people together with community BBQs, cultural events, bush walks, and more.

HOPE was set up in New Zealand in 2017. And it's part of a worldwide HOPE movement that’s just celebrated its 25th anniversary.

As a charitable organisation, HOPE relies on fundraising and donations to maintain its much-needed services. HOPE received $10,000 from the 2023 round of the Your West Support Fund. And the funding has gone towards two very successful events.

A popular community day out was held in April. The fun-filled family event offered a unique opportunity for people from diverse backgrounds to come together. Friendships and connections were made over shared kai, dancing, sports and games, including a hard-fought tug of war.

‘I had such a great time on the day trip,’ declared one excited participant. ‘As someone new to the country, it was wonderful to feel like I was part of a community,’ they added.

The community day was followed by a successful visit in May to Hoani Waititi Marae in Parrs Park. The visit showcased Māori culture and heritage and helped promote cultural understanding. The day included a traditional pōwhiri followed by a hāngī, cultural performances and a guided tour.

According to Malik, these initiatives have had a lasting impact. ‘We uplifted the social and mental wellbeing of isolated families and individuals,’ he advises. ‘Witnessing people sharing their stories and experiencing a sense of belonging and enjoyment was fantastic,’ Malik adds.

HOPE New Zealand is making a big difference to newly arrived immigrants and former refugees. Check out HOPE’s website for more information.