The Auckland Latin American Community Inc. started a Social Service to support Spanish speaking new settlers in 1994.
The Cultural Centre in 239 Onehunga Mall was the starting point for an integrated program to help refugees and migrants from Latin American to settle in New Zealand. Many of them were people coming from places in conflict and needed cultural and emotional support to overcome the after effects of traumatic experiences.
The Social Services were established to care for this group of people particularly and the Cultural Centre provided the scope for the traumatised people to express their grief through art, music, poetry.
ALAC Inc. through its cultural Centre supported many projects like the children’s music group Pachamama and the dance group Los Chaskis. The adults music groups, a community newspaper in Spanish, Voces del Sur, now in digital form through the web site, two Art galleries, El Puente and the Arts Center “Salvador Allende”.
The Spanish speaking community was motivated by the Cultural Centre efforts and responded very well helping to organize two successful festivals, theatre productions, art exhibitions, a training restaurant,etc.
The combination of cultural, spiritual, and practical support and the expertise in the defense of Human Rights of the Social Services has been very productive. Four years later when the Cultural Centre closed, there was enough development in the community to allow the formation of several independent groups that kept working according to their own subject of interest.
ALAC Inc. itself followed deeper into the area of professional Social Work using the expertise acquired to help the refugee and migrant community in general, while at the same time maintaining the three areas of family settlement needs covered for the Spanish speaking community; social, educational and cultural support.
To day after 16 years of work, the circle is completed with ALAC Inc. Refugee and Migrant Services providing orientation, social support and counselling, and Emergency Accommodation with 2 community houses one in Mangere , one in Onehunga. Also a donation based service of information and job search for Migrants.
We feel proud of our 16 years of work and the development of our community. We are always planning ahead as we identify the needs in our community and needs in the wider community where we can contribute with our experience.