By JACINTA FA’ALILI-FIDOW
Two sister parishes in Mangere, Auckland, came together to play their part in helping to vaccinate their church members and community.
Following a quick poll by the St Therese and St Anthony council and youth leaders, the results found that older members of the predominantly Pacific congregations had mostly been vaccinated, but young adults were slower to mobilise for various reasons. In response, Vasa Toleafoa, a leader of the united Mangere Catholic Youth Group, took charge of the youth-led event, with the support of church leaders and parishioners.
“The ‘Free Shot on us Uso’ event was nothing short of fun and positive,” recalled Ms Toleafoa. “It was filled with so many young people, young adults, children and young-at-heart supporters. No words can express how happy we were to have seen members of our parish councils, and especially our parish priests, turn up and dance throughout the whole day to the music and to vibe with our youth!”
The vaccination event took place on Thursday, October 14, on the grounds of St Therese, Mangere East. A target of 150 vaccinations was set before the event, which was achieved three hours from the clinic opening at 11am, and the number reaching a “thrilling” total of 215 by the time gates closed at 4pm. Every person vaccinated received a box of groceries and a $50 voucher, however the true reward was receiving the care and hospitality from their fellow parishioners and community, as evidenced by the positive feedback received by those vaccinated. Lunch was prepared by the youth and supporters, and a DJ kept everyone’s spirits up with upbeat music.
While the day itself was a success, Ms Toleafoa explained that the preparation called for several zoom meetings, and collaborative, meticulous planning involving many partners, including Pacific health providers that were connected with the Northern Region Health Coordination Centre for Covid-19 vaccinations. A mobile vaccination bus ensured adequate storage of the vaccines, and the church hall was set up for registration, vaccinations, and a post-vaccination observation area. Screening took place in the carpark.
“The journey behind the scenes was very difficult. Leading up to the event there were still bits and pieces which needed to be confirmed and processed. Thankfully, we had our parish mentors who were there for us when things didn’t go to plan. We would like to thank Pasefika Family Health, The Cause Collective, Do Good Feel Good, Interfaith Collective, the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, Foundation North, and especially Moana Research for making this event possible for our youth,” Ms Toleafoa said.
South Auckland has been at the epicentre of many outbreaks, so protecting local parishioners through vaccinations will hopefully signal a safe return to Masses and parish life, organisers said.
Photo: Vasa Toleafoa hands out vouchers to a newly-vaccinated person (Photo: Jacinta Fa’alili-Fidow)