Indian Newslink Editor and my friend Venkat Raman asked me to reflect on what, how and why Gandhi Nivas was established.
Over the past 10 years, I have had the privilege to sit on many advisory boards.
This opportunity has given me an insight into many other operations and businesses other than medicine.
You don’t know, what you don’t know, until, you actively participate and listen to other areas of public and not-for-profit organisations.
The amazing and passionate work carried out in the community by professionals that volunteer so much of their time is very humbling.
It was established in 2009 by the then District Commander Mike Bush (now Police Commissioner), who saw the trend of the growing population of South Asians in Counties Manukau, and the issues that were being reported.
A few years later, Statistics showed that women of Indian origin accounted for 4/14 deaths or 28% resulting from Family Violence and that 55% men of Indian origin breached the Police Safety Order (PSO).
Both figures were incomplete and were not represented by the population on a pro-rata basis. Counties Manukau Police District Commander threw a ‘challenge’ at the South Advisory Board to identify the issues behind these statistics.
Always up for a challenge, we looked at the data more carefully, with the guidance of Inspector Rakesh Naidoo, Sergeant Gurpreet Arora (South Asian Liaison Officer at Counties Manukau Police), Inspector Sharon Price and my fellow-board members Venkat Raman and Ibrar Sheik.
Feeling completely out of my depth, I decided to go to the Manukau Institute of Technology and complete the Domestic Violence Course to get a better understanding of the issues involved.
Absence of proper counselling services or help to anyone, especially men, who were wanting to change or get help became apparent.
At our second meeting, we formulated a plan and a vision to address this need.
We needed a home, social workers and/or counsellors and a 24-hour service (as most incidents happen at night).
Sucharita Varma volunteered her team at Sahaayta to help do the social work and counseling service. The passion and experience that she and her team bought to our group was both amazing and contagious.
Sergeant Arora spent hours getting the community together.
As this project was new and no one in New Zealand was doing it, the invaluable guidance of Inspector Rakesh and the Counties Manukau Police made the process and procedures for the Home easier.
A building was found and Gurpreet and Sucharita spent many hours getting it ready.
Furniture was sourced from donations from the community and businesses.
The Lotteries Council approved funding for the house to get started.
In the first year, we counselled over 100 families.
In the first 10 months of this year, we have worked with over 200 families.
What started as a home for Indian men, now has every people of every ethnicity visiting, as there is no other facility in New Zealand.
We had an evaluation done in the first 12 months and the results were very encouraging.
(to be continued).
- Ranjna Patel is the Founder & Trustee of the Nirvana Health Group and Nirvana Foundation that manages Gandhi Nivas. She is also a Director of the East Tamaki Healthcare.
- National MP Melissa Lee amuses Gurpreet Arora, Satvir Sen and Ranjna Patel with her Auctioneering skills at the Gandhi Nivas fundraising dinner held at Waipuna Highbrook Convention Centre on September 16, 2016
- Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy with Zoya Salim Kara and Sucharita Verma