August 6, 2014

Church Entities Connect to Make a Difference

Eleven employees of Sanitarium Health and
Wellbeing, in Australia and New Zealand, experienced a side of Samoa that went
far beyond the pictures tourists see in travel magazines. They partnered with
local communities and ADRA New Zealand in an ADRA Connections trip.

The international community project was part
of the Spirit of Sanitarium Awards (SOSA), Sanitarium’s annual employee reward
program, which recognizes employees who bring to life the company’s values of
care, courage, humility, integrity, and passion. As part of the awards program,
each year SOSA recipients have the opportunity to be part of an international
community project.

newzealand2“Our annual SOSA project is all about
recognizing the special people within Sanitarium who truly enact Sanitarium’s
values in their everyday lives,” Corporate Communications manager Julie
Praestiin said. “These international projects are a real highlight for our
teams, and give us an opportunity to partner with the community to make a difference
by working together.”

Praestiin also said the ADRA Connections
program reflects “Sanitarium’s commitment to health, nutrition, and wellbeing
in the community, and also built relationships and connections within the team
and with ADRA.”

The SOSA team visited four different villages
that are part of ADRA’s existing work in Samoa, assisting with nutrition and
food hygiene education, as well as helping to paint newly-built market stalls.
These stalls enable locals to sell produce grown as part of the ADRA program,
with Sanitarium donating (NZ)$15,000 towards the organization’s work in the

The team also helped serve breakfast at three
local schools to more than 700 students. Students at each school received
pencil cases, Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon t-shirts, and sports equipment for their

After breakfast, the sea of yellow and red
school uniforms turned to bright blue as the children proudly displayed their
new TRYathlon t-shirts. A game of rugby then ensued, with the Sanitarium team
quickly learning firsthand Samoa’s passion or rugby.

For Keith Blackburne, an accountant from
Sanitarium New Zealand’s Auckland head office, moments like these were the real
highlight. “I enjoyed letting down our walls a bit and playing,” he said. “The
children and community wanted to see us get up and dance and play, so that’s
what we did.”

ADRA New Zealand CEO Matthew Siliga said he
and his team were excited by the opportunity to host an ADRA Connections trip
for Sanitarium. “Our ADRA Connections NZ trips are about everyday Kiwis—and
Aussies, in this case—partnering with communities overseas to make a
life-changing difference,” he said.

“It’s a blessing to partner with an organization
like Sanitarium. While our organizations are different, we share a similar
purpose and a shared passion for the wellbeing of families and communities.”

Working in partnership with the New Zealand
Government, ADRA NZ has an agricultural and small business training project in
Samoa that targets 1,000 of the most vulnerable and disaster-affected families.

The ADRA Connections trip offers
opportunities for organizations to help ADRA enhance its impact, making more of
a difference by working together. “This partnership with Sanitarium has enabled
ADRA New Zealand to increase the scope and impact of the existing project,”
said Siliga.

Eseta Soaika, a machine operator at
Sanitarium’s Cooranbong Factory in New South Wales, said it really hit home to
see the tangible difference that ADRA’s programs are making to people’s
everyday lives. “We were able to make a difference in the lives of the children
in each of the schools and in the communities we visited while we were there,”
she said. “This trip was an amazing experience and the memories will stay with
me for years to come.”

information about being part of an ADRA Connections trip, visit or