Goshen Trust gets funding boost

With the help of a club that dodged reckless drivers and barking dogs and braved the unrelenting heat while running around Upolu, Goshen Trust is $22,000 tala richer.

Apia Hash House Harriers did not just run, of course. For weeks leading up to the 10th annual Upolu perimeter run, they convinced their workmates, friends and families to make donations towards the Goshen Trust.

A non-profit agency with dozens of in-need patients and a team of full-time staff, Goshen Trust is the necessary respite that Samoans need when faced with seemingly insurmountable mental health difficulties. But they are surmountable, of course, and with the right help provided by clinical therapists, mental health support workers and doctors, many residents are set to return to their normal lives within months of arriving at the residential facility.

Taumaia Esera is a mental health support worker at the residence, and she said the people living there are as normal as anyone.

“We are just there to supervise, and make sure they take their medication,” she said.

“But they are active, normal people who cook, clean, paint, everything… other people don’t understand that.”

Mental illnesses can be a burden, and most people and their families need help to carry it - but that is where the residence comes in.

After initial consultations at the Mental Health Unit, people stay at Goshen House for anywhere between a few weeks to a few months to find themselves, develop routine and undergo counselling.

Chief executive officer Naomi Sone Eshraghi said for them, it’s important to be able to go home as a functioning member of the family and community.

Little over a month ago, the residence was without a fridge or freezer, losing valuable time and money trying to cater for their residents without them.

“When you tell people a story, they give from their hearts,” said Hash House organiser Ariane Stevenson.

By sharing the problems of the trust with her friends and family, Ms Stevenson found people who wanted to donate their quality white ware, so the rest of the money raised for the trust, could be spent on other valuable resources.

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The residents gasped and applauded when Ms Stevenson excitedly turned around the oversized cheque for $21,812.20 the Hash Harriers brought with them.

“We had a last minute donation to make this a round figure, so it’s actually $22,000 tala,” she said.

Chairman of the board, Tuaena Lomano Paulo told the members of Hash that he was lost for words.

“We cannot repay you, but the Lord can,” he said, gratefully.

“We pray you have the strength to continue the work you are doing for the betterment of other people.”

Majority of the trust’s operating budget comes from the Civil Society Support Programme, which is enough to keep the facilities in order, so with the help of donated time and effort from friends and family small renovations can be done occasionally. 

With the $22,000 tala boost from the club, their operating budget has expanded enough to allow the trust to hire more female staff, which they haven’t had enough of in the last few months.

Ms Eshraghi said eventually she would like to afford a minivan, because for the last month, residents have done most of their activities on site, without transport to go to other activities. 

Usually Goshen can share the Mental Health Unit minivan, but it hasn’t always worked out and it is important for the residents to get some time away from the facility.

“They have their own mental health work and family visits to do, so they can’t always lend it to us,” she said.

The Hash House has been donating their perimeter run fundraising efforts to Goshen for the last three years. While Ms Eshraghi said she hopes their support will continue, eventually Goshen needs to improve its sustainability with some self-funding mechanisms. 

The private sector is a big help to Goshen too, with trades and resources being provided pro bono, and businesses taking on the residents of the trust for part-time work experience to help reintegrate them into society.

“The idea is not necessarily for them to be working, but to be able to improve relationships with others that are not their family,” said Ms Eshragi.

Goshen staffs accompany residents to their jobs, and help the companies supervise them as they learn to work and cooperate with new colleagues.

“It’s a slow process, but it’s worth it.”

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