It is often said that migrant communities do little voluntary contribution to the host community.
“That is not true,” says Sohni Dharti, a Pakistani community group based in Auckland. The Group established a website many years ago, stated to be the first for the community in New Zealand.
Led by Zuber Saleem (aka BillaG), the Group includes prominent ‘Desi New Zealanders’ Raja Naeem Alam, Jamshaid Ul Hasan, Haji Mumtaz, Javed Iqbal and Yaqoob Bhatti.
Ten years ago, this group started the first and only ethnic community initiative called ‘Blood Balti,’ so called because it collects bucket loads of blood from donors in association with the New Zealand Blood Bank.
Organiser BillaG said Blood Balti is “a very small human effort in the way of Almighty God for humans to survive and thrive.”
“When we announced the first Blood Balti in 2002, we did it for fun. It started from my home in Penrose, Auckland. Nine people gathered and we had a BBQ for lunch, after which we went to the New Zealand Blood Bank. As arranged earlier, all of us donated blood. We were determined to do so again,” he said.
The New Zealand Blood Bank declared Sohni Dharti as one of the best-organised groups collecting blood in the country.
Last year, Parliament passed a motion (under my initiative) congratulating this fantastic community work and the commendable efforts of the Group.
The New Zealand Blood Bank is the sole provider of all requirements of blood in hospitals. The Bank collects blood, processes and sends it whenever and wherever required.
The Blood Bank needs healthy blood donors all the time, especially during the holiday period because need for blood does not stop.
BillaG said attendance at the annual Blood Balti function was not conditional upon donating blood.
“Just come along and bring a friend or two with you and enjoy free BBQ, Music and ‘Gup Shup.’ It is about educating our community as to how donating blood can change the world of recipients,” he said,
This year’s Blood Balti event was held on January 10 at the New Zealand Blood Bank premises in Epsom, Auckland.
About 160 people of many ethnicities (including Pakistani and Indian) attended the event and 64 people donated about 500 ml of blood.
Dr Ashraf Choudhary is a former Member of Parliament on Labour List. He regularly attends the above mentioned event and encourages community support.