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Volunteers giving service to the community

Wednesday 6 April 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National

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Volunteers giving service to the community
Since 2010, Mii Estall has been still involved in community service as a Cook Islands Red Cross volunteer. MELINA ETCHES/22040505

Red Cross volunteer Mii Estall or ‘Aunty Mii’ became emotional thinking of the large families who are affected by Covid-19 in isolation and struggling to make ends meet and feed their families.

A dedicated volunteer for the Cook Islands Red Cross Society since 2010, she assists the organisation with the distribution of the government funded welfare packages.

Estall is one of the drivers with the responsibility of delivering the food parcels to those who qualify for the scheme under the Covid-19 mandatory isolation orders.

She has struggled with her emotions when observing large households grappling with their isolation situation and unable to work to help support their families, “there are people in our community who genuinely really need these welfare packs, ka tangi koe (I felt for them) … and you drive away thinking about how else you yourself can help them.”

Estall enjoys helping out the community in whichever way she can, “Red Cross is a good team to be part of and it’s good to give service to the community,” she says.

The deliveries have also been interesting she says, in meeting people she knew while living in Aitutaki, and popping into the shops to purchase goods for people in isolation, “well, they can’t leave their property so you just go and do it and get what they want.”

Volunteer work requires patience, she adds, noting that with some issues they have had to take a deep breath and deal with such, as people who are registered in a particular community Puna but living somewhere else, and those who give out incorrect directions to their residences, “then get annoyed when their food packs are delayed.”

“People are happy to see us and grateful and some are happy to have a chat,” said Estall.

Red Cross Secretary-General Fine Tu’itupou-Arnold says, “Mii is one of the dedicated volunteers, she is awesome, always available and knows exactly what to do – efficient and effective.”

Alana and Johnny Foumanu have also volunteered their time to help out.

“People just gotta get there (Red Cross) and try helping out.

“It really is so much fun and knowing that you have used your time helping others will definitely leave a smile on your face,” says Alana.

After work, the Foumanu’s would usually spend their time at home with their two young girls or at the Arorangi Seventh Day Adventist church, “just dedicating an hour to help others was also like our date night,” she says.

Another volunteer Mona Raui lends a hand at Red Cross three or four days a week, its in her nature to help wherever help is needed, she says, “it’s always good to give back to the community, so if people have even 15 minutes to spare, come along and help, after all we are all in this together.”

Tu’itupou-Arnold says a big meitaki maata to the volunteers, “we have received a lot of support, especially from those who have recovered and want to give back.”

Red Cross has seen over 60 new volunteers and have packed over 950 government welfare hampers.

If you would like to volunteer, pop into the Red Cross headquarters from 5pm during the week.