Although Tonga fortunately has no community transmission of COVID-19, travel there is not possible at present and thus the pandemic has seriously affected our ability to train teachers in the use of Steps as well as supply laptops to schools.
Our main effort has shifted to attempting to collect from New Zealand companies laptops which are up for replacement. We will then provide them to Tongan primary schools as soon as we can. In addition, fund raising continues in order to purchase new laptops for the schools.
We look forward to being able to return to Tonga and assist their Ministry staff to expand this valuable and well received Steps literacy programme, especially helpful for dyslexic children.
While NZ has been at Covid-19 Alert Level 1 for some time and life for most has largely returned to “normal”, the Covid-19 virus is spreading exponentially overseas, and especially so in India. With more infectious variants occurring, India is in crisis and in desperate need of medical supplies including oxygen, respirators, PPE and isolation facilities. Hospitals are overflowing.
Thanks to everyone for the tremendous support for this campaign!
Through your efforts, church members have sponsored 43 Year 7 & 8 Glen Taylor School students to the school camp at Kawau Island held later this month. Sponsorship for these students is very much appreciated, and the school’s Principal, Chris Herlihy, sends huge thanks to all!
Lifewise Merge Café located in Ponsonby near the Auckland Unitarian Church, sent out a call for financial help in March this year. The Café has taken a huge financial hit due to impact of the four Auckland Covid-19 lockdown periods, and was in danger of closing.
Brenda reports that in the Food Parcel Assistance for Glen Taylor School (GTS) during lockdown, in which much of the congregation was involved, a total of $2,370 was donated by us which meant many families in their local communities were helped. The principal of GTS and Clay put together a Sunday Zoom service on 17th May which was much enjoyed.
When asked how we could best help advocate for GTS, the principal suggested we could help ensure the promised upgrade to the school property actually occurs, support an increase in wages for Teacher Aids, and continue to press for an end to child poverty and a reduction in inequality.
Concerning 15 prominent pro-democracy leaders being prosecuted for “organising and taking part in unauthorised assemblies”. These charges are based on the Public Order Ordinance, the provisions and application of which fail to meet international human rights law and standards on the right to peaceful assembly. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has repeatedly expressed concern that the implementation of the Public Order Ordinance may facilitate excessive restrictions to the right to peaceful assembly and called for its review.
Egypt: Letter to Public Prosecutor, 22nd April 2020
Regarding Human Rights defender Patrick Zaki George, asking that he be released from detention as he has been detained solely due to his human rights work and political opinions that he has expressed on social media. Also asking for an independent investigation into allegations of torture and that he be guarantee access to his lawyer and adequate health care. Especially as he is vulnerable to Covid 19.
Pakistan: Letter sent 22nd April 2020 to chief minister, Punjab.
Expressing concern for prisoners in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions, especially in a time of COVID.
Bangldesh: Letter sent to 18th April to Mr. Asaduzzaman Khan, MP, Minister of Home Affairs.
Concerning Shaifqul Islam Kajol, a Bangladeshi newspaper editor and photographer, who has not been seen or heard from since the day police registered a case against him and 31 others, under the highly repressive Digital Security Act. He was last seen leaving his newspaper off ice on the evening of 10 March 2020, and his family has not heard of nor seen him since then. The police have denied having him in custody, and his family fears that he could be a victim of enforced disappearance.
Russia: Letter sent 16th April 2020 to the Military Prosecutor.
Concerning Server Mustafayev, a human rights defender from Crimea, who is currently standing trial before the Southern Region Military Court and facing up to 25 years in jail if convicted. He and two of his co-defendants, Memet Belyalov and Seyran Saliyev, have recently developed the symptoms of a viral respiratory infection (VRI). Despite this, they were brought to the court and forced to spend there several hours, suffering from their medical condition and without food or water, while their hearing was ongoing. They are being denied adequate medical care.
Our Peace and Social Justice
(PSJ) sponsorship of the Glen Taylor School, which enables their
participation in the Duffy Books in Homes programme, continues to
reward us with great satisfaction. The children are thriving with the
supplied books. PSJ representatives will attend a role model assembly
at the school in March and I’m sure Brenda and Gary will provide
more details on that after we’ve been.