An inspiring new people-powered initiative is bringing refugees to settle in Christchurch for the first time since its resettlement programme was put on hold eight years ago. Under the new community sponsorship programme, up to 35 refugees will be resettled next month in four cities around New Zealand, including Christchurch.
In support of the programme, Amnesty International New Zealand will launch the I Welcome Pledge at a press conference in Christchurch on Tuesday 22 May, where Kiwis will be invited to show their support by taking the pledge.
The programme complements the existing government-led quota system, enabling even more people to rebuild their lives. The difference is that individuals and groups provide the support needed for these new Kiwis – setting up homes, helping learn English, finding job opportunities, transportation, preparing for interviews, showing them around the neighbourhood and more.
Christchurch’s South West Baptist Church is one of the groups participating in the pilot programme. The other refugee families will settle in Timaru, Nelson andWaikato.
Canada has welcomed over 300,000 newcomers through their community sponsorship programme. In the process, refugees have gotten to safety, local people offering support have had life-changing experiences and communities have become more welcoming.