New mul­ti­cul­tural group

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

DEB­BIE JAMIESON

A low-key in­ter­na­tion­alflavoured pot luck din­ner in Queen­stown has marked the for­ma­tion of the Lakes Dis­trict Mul­ti­cul­tural Coun­cil.

Found­ing pres­i­dent Tam Schur­mann, who is from South Africa, said the idea grew from the groundswell of sup­port for Sri Lankans Di­ne­sha Amaras­inghe, her hus­band Sam Wi­jerathne, and their three boys, who were fac­ing de­por­ta­tion last year af­ter Di­ne­sha was di­ag­nosed with mul­ti­ple sclero­sis.

‘‘As a com­mu­nity Di­ne­sha and Sam’s story touched a lot of hearts with peo­ple all over Queen­stown from dif­fer­ent walks of life that re­ally had em­pa­thy and com­pas­sion for what they were go­ing through.’’

Also, through her work with Bas­kets of Bless­ings, the char­ity she founded, Schur­mann was aware of many peo­ple in the com­mu­nity who were iso­lated and need­ing sup­port net­works.

The coun­cil would be able to help peo­ple prac­ti­cally by con­nect­ing them with or­gan­i­sa­tions that can pro­vide as­sis­tance.

How­ever, the key fo­cus was on build­ing so­cial con­nec­tions, shar­ing cul­tures and cre­at­ing a ‘‘com­mu­nity within a com­mu­nity’’.

‘‘We will be ad­ver­tis­ing our monthly pot luck din­ners and plan to or­gan­ise work­shops, fes­ti­vals and cel­e­brate other cul­tural events, in­clud­ing the likes of the Ger­man beer fes­ti­val Ok­to­ber­fest.

The group was yet to hold an of­fi­cial launch but al­ready had rep­re­sen­ta­tives from South Africa, New Zealand, Malaysia, Ger­many and Sri Lanka, and mem­bers of the Fi­jian and var­i­ous South Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties had shown in­ter­est in join­ing.

The first pot lock din­ner was an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of what they were aiming for Schur­mann said: ‘‘won­der­ful unity and friend­ship.’’

Read­ers can find out more about the Lakes Dis­trict Mul­ti­cul­tural Coun­cil, the 21st lo­cal coun­cil to form in New Zealand, via their Face­book page.

SUP­PLIED

The first in­ter­na­tional pot-luck din­ner for the crew be­hind the newly formed Lakes Dis­trict Mul­ti­cul­tural Coun­cil.

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