Madeline Oosterhuis, of Lake Hawea, says she wants to send a “big thank you” to the Wanaka residents who opened their hearts and wallets to help poor children in Tanzania.
Mrs Oosterhuis said about $8500 on average per year was raised by Wanaka residents through the Arusha Orphans’ Charitable Trust, run by her aunt and uncle, Pauline and Derek Hope.
“Every year [Auntie Pauline] welcomes about 100 people into her home, and she puts on a wine and cheese and feeds them all dinner and we do a fundraising,” she said.
The members paid on average $100 per year, and some gave more than that, Mrs Oosterhuis said.
“I bring back things from Tanzania every year, like wall hangings, and we auction them off, and people are very generous, you know – a handbag can go for $100 when it is worth $20.”
This money supported several causes for children in Tanzania, including an orphanage in Arusha, and The Plaster House, a home for rehabilitative surgery founded by Sarah Rejman, niece of aviation entrepreneur Sir Tim Wallis, Mrs Oosterhuis said.
“It’s a really amazing project. Every year the Wanaka people that are in our trust, we give about $3000 to that,” Mrs Oosterhuis said.
Each year around 1000 children went through the plaster house. The surgery helped children with no money who had disabilities including cleft lip and palate, club feet or bone deficiencies that could be corrected with surgery, Mrs Oosterhuis said.
“Surgeons come from America twice a year, and they operate for free on these children,” she said.
“So they come in, get them fed, get them ready for the operation, because a lot of them are so weak because they live out in the middle of the Serengeti and don’t have proper food, and then they have their operation and they are there for two to three weeks to rehabilitate.”
Mrs Oosterhuis was responsible for ensuring the funds went to where they were needed, as she and her husband lived in Tanzania, she said.
“We lived there 20 years, and my husband is back there now; we are based right in Arusha,” Mrs Oosterhuis said.
“We’d love if anybody is out there who is interested in helping or donating or becoming a member of Arusha Orphans’ Charitable Trust, they can contact the trust at email@example.com,” she said.
“They are great. We love the support in Wanaka – it’s amazing, it’s a good community.”