Rotary helping an Afghani Evacuee family settle in Hamilton, NZ “It’s quieter than gunfire!”
Recently, as we helped an Afghani Evacuee family settle into their new home in Hamilton, I stood on the front deck with two Afghani community members, who had come to New Zealand some years ago.
I commented on the noisy road, and said, ‘You’ll soon get used to that noise’.
The response came back – ‘It’s quieter than gunfire!’
The Kazimi family enjoying their first
            breakfast in their new home
The article was written by Past President Patrick Cummings, a member of the Rotary Club of Hamilton Central, and the PHS and Major Donor Chair for the D9930 Foundation committee.
When the Taliban occupied Afghanistan last year, the New Zealand Government decided to evacuate members of the Afghan community who had previously assisted NZ Defence Forces.
The families applied for visas whilst in Afghanistan, but when the situation became dire, an NZ Air Force plane was able to evacuate many families, but no possessions, apart from what the families could carry, and no extended family members. Hence the evacuees arrived in New Zealand with virtually nothing.
They all spend time in Managed Isolation Quarantine on arrival, and then six weeks in the Refugee Centre in Auckland, and then a wait to be resettled in one of six areas in New Zealand.
NZDF Photos:  Loading evacuees at Kabul airport
When Rotary heard that some families would be settled in Hamilton, members considered how they could help.  The decision was made that members would assist with the donation/purchase of household items such as crockery, cutlery, linen, etc (the Government finds the house, and provides all hard furniture and whiteware). Hamilton Central was the lead Club and invited the other Rotary Clubs in Hamilton to join the project – Rototuna, Frankton-Te Rapa, Fairfield, and Waikato Sunrise. A Rotary Foundation District Grant was successfully obtained, and then another Club from outside Hamilton (Morrinsville) asked to be involved. Clubs have assisted with both donated goods, and funds to purchase new goods (we try and provide new bedding, where possible).
To date, four families have been assisted into their new homes, with a further nine families to arrive shortly. One of the biggest issues has been the lack of suitable rental housing, which has meant that many families are still in Auckland, in hotels.
 The Kazimi family (pictured) arrived in New Zealand last November, and after orientation, made their way to Hamilton, and stayed with their grandparents, who had arrived some years ago. Eventually, the family, two parents and five children ranging from 15 to 2, managed to find their own rented accommodation, and moved in in late May, assisted by Red Cross, and Rotary. Ezmarai Kazimi, the father, has only recently obtained residency, and until now, has received no benefit funding, and has not been able to apply for a job.
The response from Club members, and the Hamilton Community, has been amazing, as they have supported these families, realising what they have been through, and what they have had to give up to move to the other side of the world.
                NZDF personnel check details with the
                evacuees on board a Hercules aircraft
The last word is with Ezmarai, who says ‘Thanks to New Zealand Government for the very bad situation you are helping us from, and thanks to NZ Air Force, and thanks to Red Cross and to Rotary for helping us a lot. We are happy here – we want to work for New Zealand, to make a better life with the good people of New Zealand. Our children and family are happy here.’
PP Patrick Cummings