Habitat for Humanity has recognised fashion designer Agnes Loheni and her team at fashion label MENA for their extraordinary support for cyclone victims in Fiji. The high-end Pacific clothing label’s fundraiser is being hailed as ‘true solidarity’ by the charity.
“We are so impressed by the incredible organisation and work behind the scenes that went into last Thursday’s event,” Habitat for Humanity New Zealand’s chief executive Claire Szabó said.
“Agnes and her team are true heroes putting this together for our Fijian neighbours.”
It is now over three months since Fiji suffered category five tropical cyclone Winston that caused widespread destruction, including devastation to 31,000 homes. 44 people died as a result of the cyclone.
Ms. Szabo said with the cyclone “well out of the news, it takes individuals and groups with true solidarity to continue the essential work of fundraising and supporting the cyclone-affected.”
“Habitat for Humanity has undertaken a major operation assessing damage, sourcing, packing and distributing shelter repair kits and emergency shelter items. So far the agency has put aid in the hands of 5,000 families.”
Now the home-building charity is acting to address the urgent need for construction of permanent, cyclone-resilient homes.
“Here in New Zealand, Habitat for Humanity is primarily engaged in raising funds and volunteer teams to send to Fiji. Partnerships with supporters and organisations prepared to use their networks and talents in service of Fiji are critical to this end,” Ms Szabo said.
MENA’s fundraiser was an evening affair in central Auckland that showcased MENA’s fashion designs as well as local singers and dancers, food and wine, and a charity auction.
Agnes Loheni had organised performers, speakers, sponsors, workers, publicity and celebrity appearance. Notably one of the women modelling MENA’s clothing was Kelston MP Carmel Sepuloni.
The fundraising total is yet to be finalised, but it is estimated to run to several thousand. However, Ms Szabo said the charity “asserts that the act of solidarity is important in itself.”
“We are overwhelmed with gratitude to Agnes Loheni and MENA,” she said. “They are an example to the whole community about creative ways express our commitment to our Pacific neighbours when they need us.”