Things are looking brighter for a migrant couple coping with a premature baby, a hefty hospital bill and a car accident.
Twenty-five-year old Florence Rajaiyan and her husband Arumugam Sadayappan are incredibly grateful for the help and support they have received from their parish and the local Anglican Care Community Development worker, after the difficult birth of their baby daughter.
When baby Evangeline was born four weeks early by emergency caesarean section, she weighed only 2.02kg and spent 10 days in a hospital incubator. Her parents, who had been living in New Zealand for less than two years, received a bill for more than $30,000 for hospital costs.
“I was very depressed about the bill,” says Florence, who has a student visa but is currently looking after Evangeline and 3-year son Sam-Milton. Arumugam works as a chef in a New Brighton restaurant.
Initially, the couple received a small amount of money though the Givealittle crowd-funding website, but when donations stalled they began to feel hopeless. Then Arumugam received a call and visit from Dave Clancey, vicar of the Sydenham parish of St Saviour’s, who had been pastorally caring for the couple.
“Rev. Dave gave a cheque to my husband [on behalf of the parish]. It was $4000,” says Florence. “I started crying like anything. I was very happy. The day before I had been crying because I thought nobody cared but that day I was crying because I was happy!”
Parishioners have also donated a cot, high chair, children’s toys, a car seat, and other furniture.
To date, with the receipt of further website and other donations, the couple has been able to pay nearly half of the hospital bill.
Anglican Care Community Development worker and trained social worker Karen Whittaker has been assisting the couple in other ways since hearing about the couple’s plight.
She has stepped in to be an advocate for the couple in their dealings with the hospital and has assisted Arumugam to navigate the New Zealand court system after he was involved in a car accident.
“She is the one writing letters and is helping,” says Florence, who grew up in a Christian family in Chennai (formerly known as Madras) in South India. “Karen is like my mum: very kind and …when I couldn’t cope she would immediately come and help me and help sort things out.”
Through the actions and prayers of Anglican parishioners and staff, Florence and Arumugam feel more relaxed and optimistic about their life in New Zealand.
“There are many good people and we are blessed to have Dave and Karen,” she says.
“Whatever we are facing will be an example for somebody else who is struggling in the same situation. I can tell tell them definitely: there is a Lord who can help you; don’t worry.”
Megan Blakie 24/8/16