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Inspiration from Grand-parents to Grand-children.

By Euan Thomson in All Sorts

new iniatives, here and overseas , and inspiration gained from activities of the next generation

As you read this I expect to be sitting in St Andrews Uniting Church with a congregation of Presbyterians, Methodists and others led by my friend Janet Marsh, once minister here at Broad Bay. Janet was in Dunedin last month and it was good to catch up and hear about some of the activities of her growing congregation.
One programme they began about 18 months ago is a local branch of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. This is a national organisation to help grandparents who are thrust into the unexpected role of caring for their grandchildren. There are numerous reasons for this none of which are good. The grandparents meet every fortnight for afternoon tea to share information and concerns. They speak well of excellent service from the local Oranga Tamariki workers. Janet is part of the small, committed team within St Andrews who offer tangible support: physical, mental, emotional, and financial. Things that other people take for granted: going out for a meal or taking the car in for repairs are often seen as luxuries or insurmountable obstacles – this is where the group can help – and does.
On the international scene, St Andrews also initiated an education programme in Yangon, Myanmar. The Hope Children’s Centre gives children who live, quite literally, on the city garbage dump, the opportunity to learn to read and write. Bathing facilities, a school uniform, school bag, and a daily meal are provided to about fifty children who would otherwise receive no education. They recently helped fund a water purifier. This will benefit the whole garbage dump community.
It’s good to read in our weekly bulletins stories from Methodist Mission South about their ongoing work to support young people in need in our own region, most recently their assistance to residents of Youth Transition House moving from education to job-seeking.
It seems shameful that as many as 25% of New Zealand children are living in poverty. I applaud the efforts of our government to increase the incomes of our poorer families and to provide meals for school children who would otherwise go without. No one should be hungry in this food exporting country.
I feel ashamed that we have created seas that are awash with plastic, rivers that are unsafe to drink from or even swim in, and air that is so polluted it may change the world’s climate for the foreseeable future, all to add to the riches of previous generations. Thank God that young people around the globe are challenging the status quo. It was inspiring to march to the Octagon with the thousands of young climate activists and to hear their demands. Hopefully the world’s governments will listen too and act before it is too late.
Inspiring too, to attend the finale of The Big Sing, the secondary schools choir competition held this year in Dunedin at the end of August and attended by over 600 pupils from around the country. The international judges praised the standard and the commitment of the 26 choirs and their dedicated directors. It was a delightful concert made even more enjoyable by the enthusiastic support the competing schools gave to each other. They were all winners.
The same weekend, in “The Mix”, the ODT reported on the “Class of 2009” the head boys and girls of all the high schools south of the Waitaki and their achievements ten years on. There were so many successes in so many fields of endeavour. Many are now working overseas. I hope some may return in time and bring their knowledge and energy home.
Euan Thomson