Asylum seeker trust thankful for ongoing Catholic support

ASST administrator Andrea Smythe with Sr Alba of the
Little Sisters of the Poor. Sr Alba recently donated clothes
and knitted materials to the group.

Eight-year-old John (not his real name) wants to be a player for the All Whites and help New Zealand win a FIFA championship because he is “very good at soccer”.
Four years ago, this boy with his mother and sibling fled his country in Africa on foot to a neighbouring nation in the middle of the night.

His father was arrested by soldiers. It is not known if his father is still alive.

John’s mother used a large part of her funds to buy airline tickets to New Zealand.

The desperate young mother met a Good Samaritan who put her in touch with the Asylum Seekers Support Trust (ASST).

ASST administrator Andrea Smythe said about 300 asylum seekers arrive in New Zealand each year and the Government accepts only between 20 to 25 per cent.

Ms Smythe spoke at a morning tea held for donors and friends of the Auckland diocese Catholic Caring Foundation at the Pompallier Diocesan Centre in Ponsonby on
November 25.

She related how John and his family were helped to find a home in New Zealand.

“The trust works to create a safe and supportive environment for all asylum seekers,” she said.

“We provide access to information, services and resources so they may effectively pursue the determination of their refugee status,” she added.

She said the organisation relies mostly on sponsors and donors. They do not seek government funding.

“That gives us a certain autonomy which also guarantees human rights,” she said.

She thanked the Caring Foundation for its continued support of the trust.

Caring Foundation general manager Darragh O’Riordan said Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn is very supportive of the refugee sector.

“In discussions that we had of what areas we will support for more than one year. . . we discussed the refugee sector and he said to me, ‘Jesus was a refugee’. That was his
message of support,” she said.

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Rowena Orejana

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