The Goshen Trust mental health service is without a fridge.
So what does the Apia Hash House Harrier’s do?
They are tackling the tough Perimeter running relay around Upolu next weekend to fundraise for one. And they are calling for sponsorship to run the 184km around Upolu on August 31st and September 1st.
Goshen Trust Mental Health Service is a non-profit organization running residential treatment facilities and offering community support to Samoan people managing mental health problems. It was established in 2009 and today looks after 34 families affected by mental health issues.
Hash House organiser Ariane Stevenson said the Goshen Trust was a natural choice to fundraise for.
Many people she spoke to hadn’t heard of the trust so beyond merely fundraising, Hash is able to raise awareness of the organization.
“We felt it was important for us not just to support them financially but also let people know they are there, they offer these services, and they need help,” she said.
Goshen Trust Board member, and Hash runner himself Fa’aso’otauloa Sam Saili said the financial support was welcome, but they are most grateful for the raised awareness.
The Perimeter Relay is a big event every year, so Goshen receives lots of exposure through this fundraiser, he said.
Starting at Tanoa Tusitala at 9pm on Friday, members of the club will run 80km to Sinalei where the next group will take the baton.
From Sinalei the official Samoa Perimeter Relay begins, so the Hash runners will join them for the 104km back to Tanoa.
For anyone preferring to take it slow and out of the heat, a group will walk 40km throughout the night from Le Vasa Resort to Sinalei.
Ms. Stevenson said they reached out to Goshen three years go to learn what their needs were, and having been raising funds for them ever since.
This year during their regular Monday night run, the group visited the Goshen compound to see the site in person.
“We wanted to see what they do, where they do it and where they need the most assistance.”
“They identified a couple of areas they particularly would like help with – fridges and freezers, and transport,” said Ms. Stevenson.
She said the visit opened up people’s eyes to just how great the Goshen Trust’s need is for basic resources.
“People there are trying to do their job without very much to help them.”
Right now, Goshen Trust has around ten residents who are housed, fed and engaged with every day. Recently, their fridge and freezer broke down, and they have been without for weeks.
Goshen Trust runs their facilities 24/7, with 15 staff on rotation looking after the residents. The trust maintains a one to three resident staff ratio, so keeping people on site takes up a lot of their budget.
Fa’aso’otauloa said when the budget gets tight they get generous food donations but it is often perishable.
Their need for a fridge and freezer is greater than ever now that it’s gone.
Not having a fridge is both inconvenient and very inefficient. Sam said scheduling staff to do groceries almost daily can be difficult, especially when only two of their 15 staff know how to drive.
Fa’aso’otauloa said the trust needs to invest in a minibus or van.
Most days the residents are taken to outside activities or appointments. When they go as a group, including their staff, the trust often doesn’t have enough cars to get everyone to their destination.
“We are hoping for a van or minibus so we can fit everyone in to get to all our programs like job training and therapy.”
Once a week the group travels 40 minutes to Tiapapata Arts Center for art therapy sessions.
“We use art as a form of therapy for the residents where they get to express their creative side on what their feelings are,” said Sam.
“It’s successful in giving them another activity that makes them express their emotions.”
Because of how positive the art therapy is for their residents, they try visit the arts center every Monday. Sometimes there just isn’t a way to get everyone there, said Fa’aso’otauloa.
The Goshen Trust receives most of their budget from the Samoa Civil Society Support Programme (C.S.S.P) and private donations.
As for how a running club can raise that much money by circling the island, Ariane said Hash is a wide and varied group.
“All of our participants scope their family, friends and business contacts, and go out into the community seeking support because they are putting in the effort time and energy into participating.”
In the past, a participant has managed to raise $3000 tala on their own.
“Some people have large business and family networks here, and some might be Australian volunteers or haven’t been here very long and don’t have networks like the others.”
In last year’s perimeter run fundraiser, Hash raised $17000 tala for the trust.
Ariane said she hopes they can at least match last year’s contribution although they probably will need to raise more.
“But if anyone wants to donate a van, that would be great!”
Coffee Roasters, Coffee Bean, On the Rocks and Kokobanana are collecting donations until the big day, Friday 31st August and all donations are welcome. Anyone wanting to donate in person can contact Ms Stevenson or Fa’aso’otauloa directly (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com).