Geoff Helisma, Clarence Valley Independent
“Sama-Sama (Together) is a small event to convey to our community that during COVID-19, Sama-Sama we are strong and Sama-Sama we can see this difficult time through,” says Lower Clarence Multicultural Committee (LCMC) member Bobby McCaughey.
“We are inviting the wider community to come and meet us for a cuppa and conversation and to share the stories we have received over the past 11 months, as a result of our fundraising.
“And we’ll have dance, a raffle and a bargain table, too.”
The event takes place this Sunday from 9am to noon at the Wooli Street hall behind Yamba Library, adjacent to Yamba River Markets.
Over the past year the LCMC came to realise that, while Australia has remained relatively Covid-free, it has been akin to a nightmare for many Filipinos, particularly those who live in the country’s most vulnerable communities.
And it’s been a double whammy for those employed around the world, many of whom were sending money home to support their families.
“Fifty-four per cent of those workers were sent back without support,” says Bobby.
She says that life became fraught and, with the military in control and gangs flourishing under the lockdown conditions, it became “hard for people to get their money”.
“They were telling us don’t send money because we can’t get it right now,” Bobby says.
“We have two ladies in our group who have contacts, so we were able to buy rice directly – a quarter of a tonne at a time.
“Another group bagged it up and delivered it to the poor areas.
“This reality prompted us to take a small action that has had a very positive impact on a number of vulnerable communities in the Philippines.”
The initiative began as a result of the cancellation of Harmony Day 2020 celebrations due to Covid restrictions.
“The LCMC’s donated raffle prize basket intended for the said event was re-purposed,” says Bobby.
“We decided to raffle it amongst our family and friends, and to use the money to buy rice to donate to those doing it tough in the Philippines.
“Their response was overwhelming gratitude and a sense of hope in knowing that people in another country thought enough to share food with them.
“So LCMC had a new goal to raise $300 each month and buy rice for various communities there, for 12months.
“To date we have raised over $3,000 in fundraising and donations.
“And we offer special acknowledgement and gratitude to Dr Annie Lippert Espag and Dr Willem Espag of Family Dental Yamba and Grafton, who donated vouchers two months in a row as prizes for our monthly raffle draws.”
Bobby says that the group will soon decide on another 12-month program.
Take the time to check out the event: there will be a cultural dance demonstration and stories and messages from those who have been assisted over the past year, and a bargain table to aid their fundraising efforts.
This article appeared in the Clarence Valley independent, 24 February 2021.