Approximately 130 people headed out to a red zone area after church today and gave out three-quarters of the vouchers the rest will follow this week). It was brightly sunny for most of the time and then a bitter hail-filled storm brushed by. In the area we went into, as we expected, half of the homes had no people in them, thus it was logistically complicated as we redirected people with vouchers left over to other areas.
Here are some initial observations:
1. it was great to do this as three churches together – it was a big job that we were able to pull off because of having enough people.
2. almost everyone who received the vouchers was surprised and moved by the gesture.
3. going over to that side of the city was sobering – in many parts the blue pipes with fresh water and the grey pipes pumping out sewerage were running across the footpaths and gutters. As I was taking a photograph near a sewerage pipe it suddenly jolted as a ‘dose’ passed by – charming! But for those people living there, a very welcome gift as up to only a week ago, they were still using portaloos or chemical toilets over 7 months after the big February quake.
4. there were many sad stories of struggle and wondering what is next. If that wasn’t enough of a load, overnight some sad souls had siphoned off the diesel from the sewerage pump and left people thinking they could use their toilets when they couldn’t.
5. without exception, those who handed out the vouchers were touched by the welcomes they received. Some commented that they felt that they had received much more than they gave.
Thanks to all of those who helped make this wonderful event come off so well, from donors, to organisers, to voucher walkers, but especially, the voucher receivers who we hope find things a little easier, even if just for a few days!