Rio Tinto is helping to foster Koha Kai’s aim of encouraging a life of purpose for people living with disabilities by donating $90,000 to the organisation as part of its COVID-19 relief package, a global programme to support communities as they respond and recover from COVID-19.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, Koha Kai cooked 400 meals each day for some of Southland’s most vulnerable people. Joining forces with community health and social service providers, Awarua Whānau Services and Ngā Kete Mātauranga Pounamu, the team focused on providing healthy food for kaumatua, the disabled community and solo parents, particularly in rural areas.
The funding from Rio Tinto, a 79.4 per cent shareholder in New Zealand’s Aluminium Smelter (NZAS), will go towards developing more teaching facilities for Koha Kai’s students, including new teaching spaces and eventually also a teaching cafe.
NZAS chief executive and general manager Stew Hamilton said, “Koha Kai has touched many lives during lockdown and we are proud to help that work to continue and grow.”
“This is an organisation that is constantly working on new initiatives to give their students the best opportunities to learn – a teaching café would be an excellent example of this. By developing new skills and feeding their community, the students at Koha Kai gain a strong sense of pride in their contribution,” he said.
Koha Kai Founder and CEO Janice Lee is very gratefulfor the support. “It’s a much-appreciated contribution which we will use to support our vocational and training programmes through 2021 and beyond. This money enables the plans we have for updating and expanding our teaching programmes into the community. We knew what we wanted to do and achieve but weren’t sure how or when that was going to happen. Now with this contribution we have certainty for our plan for this year,” she said.