Potting Up for Khaled

Image of some of the volunteers supporting Khaled Al Jouja and family

Office of Ethnic Communities Senior Services Advisor, Craig Nicholson and son Noa recently spent a few hours volunteering to support Khaled Al Jouja and family – along with around 500 other volunteers.

Khaled was a specialist gardener in Syria and was resettled with his whānau [family] in Wellington in early 2016. He has applied his knowledge and skills in growing food for children in the Hutt Valley through the charity, The Common Unity Project Aotearoa. Khaled has also been busy developing a pop-up nursery so he could be self-employed. Unfortunately, vandals ransacked more than 2,000 painstakingly-grown plants that were to be sold at market, leaving just 250 salvageable plants.

A wide cross-section of the community responded to the Common Unity Project call to attend “Potting Up for Khaled” in early October, with people travelling from far and wide to help. Tommy Millions Pizza and Almighty Organic Juices provided kai [food] and juice for volunteers. Almighty is a small business part-owned by Adán Tijerina who was a speaker at the Ethnic People in Commerce NZ Conference held in June this year.

Khaled & whānau [family] were overwhelmed by the support. More than $12,000 in donations was raised in a short period of time, including contributions from around the world. Cuttings, plants and potting mix were also donated.

Most important was the palpable feeling of community gathered, centred and activated by the Common Unity Project.

Inspiring stuff – and exciting to see Khaled and family’s future looking bright!