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New Zealand Tamils raise funds for poor children in India

Radhika, a student of Natraj School of Dance, performing at the Tamil New Year celebrations

New Zealand’s Wellington Mutamizh Sangam (WMS) raised $2500 as part of its celebration of Tamil New Year ‘Nandhana’ on Saturday 9 June 2012 at the Indian Cultural Centre in the capital. The year Nandhana -‘that which bestows joy’ – returns after a cycle of 60 years. The celebration, titled ‘Happy Family –Strong Family’, raised funds for Karunai Illam Trust (KIT), a New Zealand charity that works for the underprivileged children in South India. The trust was founded by Jean Watson, a Wellington-based author, 25 years ago.

Radhika, a student of Natraj School of Dance, performing at the Tamil New Year celebrations in Wellington in New Zealand

The celebration was attended by 250 people including those from Families Commission and the Office of Ethnic Affairs. “Last year’s celebration was in in collaboration with Natraj School of Dance, which raised $3000 for NZ Red Cross to help them establish the Wellington Region Emergency Management Team,” says Balaji Venkatachalam, treasurer of WMS and the event coordinator.

Jean Watson started the Karunai Illam Trust “in a shed with a few children in a rural area called Nilakottai” (in Tamil Nadu) in India during one of her many travels. Now the Illam has expanded with a growing number of children on the waiting list.

Auckland based MP Kanwaljit Bakshi pledged his support for the trust and its founder Jean Watson.

A White Ribbon Ambassador from The Families Commission, Gregory Fortuin, applauded the Tamil migrant communities for not leaving their cultural heritage and the value of Ahimsa – non-violence at the customs’ gate. He applauded the diversity of nations reflected in the audience such as Indian, Malaysian, Sri Lankan, South African, Fijian and the sharing of similar values.

The Chief Guest for the evening, Minister Peter Dunne, supported the celebration theme- ‘Happy Family Strong Family’ and reiterated that the family as an institution has a pivotal role in the community and families should find time to gather around the dining table.

Selva Ramasami, president of WMS, noted that WMS strongly believe in the power of collaboration both with other community organisations and agencies to promote social cohesion and understanding in Wellington and beyond.

It was a brilliant celebration with all three tenets of the Tamil way in evidence at the hall in Petone, say Joy McDowall and Caroline McGrath from The Office of Ethnic Affairs. “Not only were traditional songs and dances performed but also Kollywood influenced updated acts were part of the fun.

Two young women, Saranya and Deepa acted as ‘Masters’ of ceremonies and had the audience roaring with laughter as they used witty banter when introducing each act. Delicious traditional food completed the hospitality. It is great to think such fun raised so much money.”

WMS is a non-political organisation founded in 2009 with an aim to promote connection within communities in the wider Wellington Region whose cultural backgrounds are built on the three pillars of Tamil: Language, Music and Drama.

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