What a week with Cyclone Gita baring down on New Zealand. We watched with horror as hurricane force winds and high tides battered our Pacific Neighbours and then braced ourselves as it approached New Zealand.
While Raglan got off lightly, some, still recovering from previous disasters, suffered major damage and disruptions to transport and communications. They were not so fortunate.
In the midst of it all, life went on. I was worried about my car, which was at the garage getting a warrant. ‘What if it didn’t pass’ I thought? While I was waiting, I met a lady who was going blind and had just learned she could no longer drive. Suddenly, I got things into perspective. Initially, I did not know what to say (a typical response when someone tells you tragic life-changing news). I was reminded of Helen Keller’s famous quote:
“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”
Helen Keller (1880-1968 ), born in Ireland was deaf and blind but graduated from Radcliffe College with honours in 1904. She spoke several languages, wrote more than a dozen books and devoted her life to social reform, particularly for those who were deaf and blind.
I spent the next few days with the elderly lady and instead of dwelling on the future, we both shared a ‘Reverse Bucket List’: remembering our achievements, the wonderful times with our children and grandchildren, Play Centre, camping holidays (in tents) with singsongs round camp fires, and dancing at village halls. We recalled life before washing machines, television, telephones and computers. We had both emigrated from England over forty years ago and had lived in many parts of New Zealand. We recalled carless days, car-pooling and petrol rationing in 1970s, milk for four cents a pint and paying four cents to send a letter. Few people send letters anymore and despite the fact we can communicate around the world in a twinkling of an eye, making social contact appears more difficult.
Loneliness is a major issue facing modern society and Jo Cox, member of Parliament for Batley in Yorkshire, set up the Commission for Loneliness shortly before she was gunned down and killed in 2016. In January this year, Britain appointed a Minister for Loneliness. In her statement, British Prime minister Theresa May said, “ I want us all to confront this and take action to address loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, those who have lost loved ones, those with no-one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with.”
International Women’s Day is Thursday, March 8, and we remember the women of the past who fought to make New Zealand the first country to give women the vote in 1893. More than one hundred years later, Kristine Bartlett became New Zealander of the year for 2018 after securing equal pay for caregivers in the aged care sector.
In Raglan we champion all those men and women who give their time to making Raglan a safe and happy place to live. We need to be proud of our achievements no matter how big or small. However, we still have a long way go and it is important to recognise individuals and groups who support our most vulnerable.
The Opportunity Shop at the Raglan Community House has proved popular since it reopened in January and now opens every day except Sunday. Consequently, more volunteers are required.
The Saturday Club meets every Saturday Morning at 9.30am at the Community House, so join us for a cup of tea and catch up with some of the local volunteers who keep the Senior Groups functioning.
Senior Technology is at 2pm every Thursday at the Raglan House for help and general advice about computers and cell phones. What may seem a major calamity is often fixed in a few minutes by Jake, who volunteers his time to keep elderly people connected.
Care and craft meets every Monday at Stewart Street Hall and is selling hand-knitted items (mainly baby clothes). Contact Lillian on 8250118 for details.
Maui Dolphin Day 2018 and the Recycled Raft Race is on Saturday 3 March. There will be stalls and stage performances and an obstacle course for the children. Contact the Environment Centre (WEC) for more details.
The next Crop Swap meeting is on Sunday 4 March 9.30am at the Bowling Club. As well as sharing surplus produce there is a chance to swap gardening ideas and recipes, and meet new friends. The contact number is 8257577.
The Raglan Community Disability Support Group meets on Wednesday 6 March 11am at the Stewart Street Hall. All welcome.
The Senior Citizens’ Group is at present looking for a new venue and hopefully will meet on 15 March.
The Raglan Community Trust Van is available to take people to Health Related appointments in Hamilton. Please contact Raglan House on 8258142 a few days before the scheduled appointment.
Our thoughts go to Noel Bailey and his family. Noel was one of the regular drivers for the Community Trust Van. He recently had an accident and is in hospital.