Sandra Johnson is a married mum of two. Originally from Whangarei, she now lives in Nelson.  

In 2006, Sandra, her husband and her two daughters, Ruth now (22) and Grace (24), went on a world trip for seven months. On this trip, they went to Mexico to meet one of their sponsored children. Grace had written letters to Citlaly since they were both four years old. 

“It was pretty emotional to meet Citlaly. What struck me was how much their family was just like ours. They had two girls and jobs very similar to us,” says Sandra. 

Sandra says the family, especially Ruth and Grace, were impacted for years to come.  

“After that trip, I felt a sense of responsibility. I wondered what else I could do for people just like us, but who are far worse off. 

“There isn’t a lot we can do in New Zealand, but we can raise funds and awareness in the church and the community,” says Sandra.  

Ruth-and-Grace-with-Citaly-and-sister-body3-(1).jpgSandra's daughters, Ruth and Grace, in Mexico with Citlaly and her sister.


Sandra contacted Tearfund and joined the Advocate Network so she could speak about Tearfund’s work. 

Sandra is especially passionate about Tearfund’s Farming and Enterprise cause and she visited Tearfund’s former partner Saahasee in 2017. 

Tearfund partnered with Saahasee for 15 years across different slum communities in India supporting Self Help Groups.  Group members of about 20 women save a little every week to create a pool of funds from which they can borrow to create a small business or for a need. 

At first, the loans are taken to provide for immediate and emergency needs, but as time goes on, more loans are taken out to start small businesses or to increase members’ household incomes. In the groups, they also address issues affecting the community such as health, sanitation and women’s rights.
 

With-SaaHasee-Ladies-Body-2-(1).jpgSandra with the Saahasee ladies in India. 

"These ladies were so gracious and kind and taught me so much. I just couldn’t forget about them. They had such a big impact on me—I refused to turn my back on them,” says Sandra.  Sandra raised $15,000 for Saahasee by organising a devonshire tea at her church where almost 100 people came. She sold coffees and pies at fairs, sold her friends’ junk on Trade Me and did a Bunnings barbeque. She also talked multiple times at women’s groups and catered for events. 

“The money I raised was to build the Self Help Group infrastructure and to assist them in what they were doing.” 
 
“These people are not to be pitied. They are so creative, resilient and adaptable. They just need a bit of financial help or advice.” 
 
She says, “The heart of advocacy is sharing stories and awareness. People don’t know what they don’t know. 

body1-(1).jpg
Tearfund Trip To Bangkok, Thailand to meet another one of their sponsored children.

“What I love about Tearfund is they work through their partners. I just love that you don’t see a Tearfund office anywhere in the world and they run their projects through the locals. That’s why I support the work they do because it is very effective.” 

Tearfund and Saahasee recently wrapped up a successful long-term partnership.  Eddie Mall, the director of Saahasee said: “Everything we have been able to invest has been a blessing to our team and we know the impact will be sustained for years to come.” 

Tearfund-Trip-To-Bangkok-body4-(1).jpg
Tearfund trip to Bangkok, Thailand. 

Do you have a heart for social justice like Sandra? You can make an incredible impact as well by signing up to Tearfund’s Advocate Network

 


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