What Can We Do?
‘I can’t.’ Over the past seven days, I’ve heard these two words uttered by every New Zealander I know. My dad whispered them when he called me in Vancouver in the midst of the shootings. My cousin typed them as she messaged from a lockdown in Christchurch. I used them, when I could not fathom how to articulate the hurt and ache that I, and each of my peers, felt for the Muslim community. I can’t. Because there is nothing we can say that expresses or eases the horror that our sisters and brothers in Christchurch endured and continue to face every day. Because acknowledging the fact that this is the world we live in is unfathomable. We can’t.
I returned to New Zealand on Tuesday, March 19th to join the team at The Big Idea. The country I came back to is not the same place I left a year ago. It never will be. But in the wake of this act of terror, I have seen a mammoth flood of love and action that surpasses anything I could have imagined. I’ve seen thousands of people attend vigils across the world. I’ve seen millions and millions of dollars raised for those who lost their lives in a matter of days. I’ve seen the power of kindness and leadership. I’ve seen hakas, performances, changes to gun law, songs, murals, promises of protection, the names, faces and stories of every victim, all shared with a vow that we will be better. And New Zealand, I have seen that we can. We’re not there yet, but we can.
For those feeling helpless, for those that think they ‘can’t’, it is time to join the country and show your love. It’s time to get involved, to speak, and to act. On this, the national day of mourning, plan to take an action that feels right for you. Below are just a few ways of how you can:
Attend a fundraiser.
Fundraisers are being held across the country. For those in Auckland, the following events have been arranged:
Christchurch: My Fathers Barbers - Donation Drop-Off Centre
This on-the-ground team are delivering donations directly to the families who have flown to New Zealand to support their loved ones. Current call is for grocery vouchers, petrol vouchers and prepaid pressie cards.
Tune in to honour the victims by joining the national broadcast of a two-minute silence at 1:32pm on Friday (today) 22nd March.
Radio NZ, TVNZ, MediaWorks and all major free-to-air TV and radio stations will be broadcasting live the Islamic call to prayer at 1.30pm from Hagley Park, opposite the Al Noor Mosque in Deans Ave. This will be followed by a two-minute silence to reflect and remember those lost last week.
Share the names and stories of those lost in the shooting.
They are real people and their bravery and humanity needs to be known.
Sign the national book of condolences.
This can be found at the National Library on Molesworth St in Wellington.
Participate in #CreateAroha
Creative New Zealand is inviting artists to share an image or video on their Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #createaroha. If you don’t have social media accounts, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org with #createaroha in the subject line. They will make sure the rest of New Zealand sees and hears your creative gift.
Attend an event.
Support our Muslim communities by attending one of the many nationwide events. You can also see related events across the country by clicking on the links below.
Prejudice, racism and hate speech have no place here. If you hear it, if you see it, call it out.
Check your community.
Talk to your friends and family. If you feel they need extra help, recommend they call or text 1737, a free mental health number available 24/7.
Visit your local mosque.
You may want to lay flowers or just give support with your physical presence.
Light a candle.
Send the light to those families you have seen act with such grace and courage this past week.
Georgie Bloomfield is a writer and filmmaker with a passion for people and their stories.
She is The Big Idea’s Relationship Manager. You can contact her on email@example.com
Naveen Chandra for Unsplash
Mike Labrum for Unsplash
Photograph of flowers by Meri Gibson
Artwork by Mercedes Ackerman