Staff members, Dave Richards and Kate Tindall visited Christchurch recently to meet with organisations TTF are supporting through the Canterbury Earthquake Response Fund and to catch up with Bede Martin, our joint Todd/Tindall Foundation Project Manager in Christchurch. Although the visit brought the usual feeling of sadness, it was brilliant to meet with those who are working so hard to move things forward through such a complex, painful situation.
Mary Richardson of Christchurch Methodist Mission spoke of the hardships some people will face this winter in their earthquake-shaken homes. Methodist Mission continue to do a fantastic job providing multiple services to the people in their community, despite the increased workload after the earthquakes. Their own offices were devastated in the February earthquake, but they have settled into another site in which they have accommodation and independent living for older people, an early childhood centre and the offices of the Methodist Mission. It was a highlight to hear from Andrea, the early childhood centre manager of the interconnectedness of the community. The children and the older people, who live in the Methodist Mission housing units just a few minutes walk away, get together regularly to have morning tea, or to sing songs. These ages rarely get to mingle, so something like this is really valuable for both groups.
Driving through Sydenham has recently turned into a somewhat colourful experience, especially for the average visitor to Christchurch. Gap Filler have injected hope and enthusiasm into empty lots with creative pop-up projects such as the super impressive Dance-O-Mat, which is a real dance floor with speakers, disco ball and is actually powered by an old washing machine! You just plug your ipod in and pop your $2 in the slot, and half an hour of dancing is yours! We unfortunately didn't have an ipod, but danced anyway. We met the energetic staff, Coralie and Trent, in their tiny, heavily-insulated office made from recycled materials. Gap Filler have been attracting attention for their proactive attitude towards reclaiming the city. They really encourage others to do as they have done, and start to use derelict spaces for the public. It definitely breathes hope, fun and a sense of community into the otherwise desolate spaces where buildings once stood.
Addington Action is an organisation, which was founded after the Canterbury earthquakes to help vulnerable residents to clear and repair their homes. Bede led a tour of a few houses which have been repaired by Addington Action. The repairs on the houses included; major cracks refilled, rubble cleared from sections, broken concrete replaced, the replacement of framing and insulation, new wiring etc. The owners are feeling a lot more secure and some are on the path to being able to do the rest of the repairs themselves and have joined AA as a volunteer.
Another resident-led initiative we visited is Cancern (Canterbury Communities' Earthquake Recovery Network) a network of Christchurch residents' groups. Leanne and Brian are performing a stirling job making sure residents' are kept informed by the authorities and ensuring that earthquake-stricken Cantabrians' concerns are addressed. We really got a feeling of the immense complexities of the many inter-woven issues that need to be constructively addressed to sort out the recovery.
Kia Kaha, Christchurch!