MARICEL (NOT her real name) was three days away from an expiring work visa, and all her dreams 72 hours from similarly dwindling down the drain. Because of a lucky referral, she rang the subjects of today’s blog. Each hour from then on was crucial, but they were well-spent. Clever paperwork was lodged, a proper job offer produced, processed and verified, Maricel saved from a one-way ticket home, and 24 months later the latest in a proud tradition of deserving Asian permanent residents, each day contributing to the choo-chooing of the resurgent New Zealand economy.
Maricel’s is an exceptional case, because she would’ve spent the last iota of her strength to stay in Aotearoa anyway, her friends were prepared to see her through her immigration adventure, and she was fortunate enough to benefit from the passion and zeal of KASAGIP volunteers led by Mimi and Jarvis Laurilla, who have braved fate, fickle bureaucracy and the sometimes treacherous tides of career and fortune, to help new migrants in New Zealand, as they were once migrants themselves.
KASAGIP is shorthand for Kapatirang Kabalikat sa Kagipitan, which loosely translated from Tagalog is community partners (or brothers/sisters) in times of need, but SAGIP, the root word, also means rescue. KASAGIP is a label “of those who rescue”. The name of their devoted team is both an acronym and a keyword for the passion of those who help with and rescue from, the challenges and obstacles of migration.
It would be misleading to say Mimi and Jarvis have done all the work, but they are the driving force of a potent group which has literally brought out of the deepest hole 20 migrants or hard-luck “cases” of which Maricel is only the latest. The Skilled Migrant Policy stream that provides NZ migrants with livelihoods is double edged, as it sends home those who fail to find jobs that fit the would-be migrant’s skill set. Kasagip takes this quirk of fate to heart, as it is prepared to help those who fall between the cracks of good intentions and well-meaning opportunity.
Mimi, Jarvis and their corps of hardy volunteers have undergone no formal training as immigration consultants, counselors, lifesavers or employment advisors, only the hard-knock realworld lessons of experience applying for legitimate migrant status themselves. Add to that, a vocation to help those similarly situated, and wanting a better life for themselves in foreign shores far from home.
To finance the logistics of helping hardluck migrant wannabes, the Laurillas and KASAGIP conceived of a thousand-and-one ways to raise money, not the least being the KASAGIP annual garage sale, grants and funding from city governments and foundations, and the goodwill donations of the KASAGIP Golden Club, anything to maintain liquidity and independence from the profit motive.
In return, this incredibly inspiring organization ask for nothing except the satisfaction of seeing an aimless, wandering and hopeless migrant brought back from the depths of despair and into the land of the living. That is, the land of hope and new life, in New Zealand.
Each migrant sent home represents a dream extinguished, a dream that Mimi and Jarvis are not ready to give up, as long as they have the minimal requisite of passion and initiative. Without this, KASAGIP would not survive. And neither would the many migrants it helps.
For this and many other reasons, Mimi and Jarvis Laurilla, their comrades in KASAGIP, and their converts, are truly my favorite Kinoys. They deserve to be your favorites, too !
Thanks for reading !
PS. For more info and if you want to help them help others, pls email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit their Facebook page (Kasagip Charitable Trust) or simply ring them (04)528-5238 in NZ. Gain the goodwill and pay it forward, woohoo !
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