Tuesday, May 19, 2009
by Arvind Kumar
class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">The first sod has been turned in a community project which is aiming to provide free funeral services for its members and their families in Auckland
Free, if not, cheaper, funeral services is the aim of the New Zealand-Fiji Community Support Services and Projects Trust, which held its first public meeting in Mangere Bridge at the weekend.
More than 70 members of the public turned out for the meeting at Wanderers Club which attracted prominent Fiji and Pacific community members including former Fiji MP and Auckland businessman Harnam Singh Golian.
And the man behind the project, Auckland businessman Sam Achary, said the proposed community funeral home project could be a reality within three months.
Achary said it was a pioneering project which could serve as a role model for other communities in New Zealand to follow.
The meeting heard that the trust, which was formed in November last year, had already identified an unused funeral home at Huntington Park, Pakuranga, and the purchase and upgrade would cost around $900,000.
A majority of the people present backed the project, and suggested ways to raise funds. Almost $4000 was raised from pledges at the meeting.
The fundraising model backed by the trust is the sale of “calendars”, which, while raising funds for the project, will allow the purchaser to win prizes in return. The calendars carry a combination of numbers from a pack of cards and will be drawn each week, and the first prize winner will get Lotto tickets worth $1000.
At around $4 a week for a draw in the calendar, the trust hopes the sale of 8000 calendars will provide the bulk of the funds for the project.
Achary, who has personally been helping scores of families with funeral expenses, said it was a matter close to his heart.
“Having seen many families struggling with funeral expenses of loved ones over a long period of time, I have always felt that we should be able to do something for those who need help in their time of sorrow,” Achary said.
“It is time to give back to the community, and I am confident of a fruitful outcome of this project.
“The community’s own funeral place will ease a lot of burden faced by families.”
* A recent online poll by Sandesh showed that 63 per cent of respondents supported a funeral home / rest home for the community, 27 per cent was against, and nine per cent was unsure.
The funeral home is the first on the ambitious list of projects planned by the trust – next on the list is a community resource centre and a rest home.
Achary said although the trust was initially set up as a Fiji community initiative, it was open to everybody because every other community has showed huge interest in the venture.
For details on the project and to buy calendars, or to make donations, Achary can be contacted on 09 634 5545, 09 634 0437 or 021 395723.