UN volunteer praises Oamaru

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A Wellington woman who was an integral part in helping a North Otago organisation set up a physiotherapy school in Haiti says Oamaru should be proud of what it has helped to achieve.

Dr Pauline Penny was introduced to Hearts and Hands for Haiti (HHH) founder and Oamaru woman Robyn Couper a few years ago to help with the project.

HHH, a North Otago charitable trust set up to provide aid after the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, created a physiotherapy school in the city of Cap-Haïtien with the first intake having recently completed their exams.

Dr Penny, who came to Oamaru to attend an HHH fundraising event at the Opera House on Monday, said she was introduced to Ms Couper several years ago by former prime minister and United Nations Development Programme administrator Helen Clark.

Dr Penny, a former business analyst for MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti), helped HHH liaise with the UN to get the school up and running.

Dr Penny said she felt proud to be part of the project, which would be more successful than others, because it was something the people in Haiti could sustain by themselves.

“I felt the way they were going about it was really good.

“To me, it was a well-thought-out project and it was filling an important need.”

The whole project was a team effort and it was about being the right person in the right place to be able to get keep pushing the UN to make it work, she said.

“I’m really pleased I was that person and was able to participate.”

Oamaru also needed to be proud of what it had helped achieve in supporting the creation of HHH and the school, Dr Penny said.

“I just think it’s phenomenal of a small town in New Zealand to have got together to create the situation where this could happen.

“I think it is something that Oamaru can be really proud of.”

The HHH event, which was held in Oamaru on Monday, raised money to send one last group of physiotherapists to teach a component of the course next year before the school became totally self-sustainable.

Dr Penny said the event, which included a dinner with Helen Clark, an art auction and a concert, was well organised.

“It was really nice. They did a lovely job.”

Oamaru Opera House director Megan Peacock Coyle said Monday night’s event was “fantastic” and successful.

The dinner with Helen Clark was sold out but they had fewer people than they would have liked at the concert, she said.

“Helen was very gracious and available. It was a real pleasure to meet her.”

Mrs Peacock Coyle said she wanted to thank the sponsors and the community who helped support the event.

The artworks that did not sell in the auction are on sale in the Opera House foyer.

By RUBY HARFIELD

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

HEARTS AND HANDS: Andrea Kydd-Law’s artwork picturing Helen Clark and Robyn Couper sold at the art auction.