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Committee Offers Christchurch Victims Vital Psychological Support

Holding a university doctorate in forensic psychology, Zhiyan Basharati believes the best thing she can offer the families of Christchurch mosque victims is listening to them, Radio New Zealand reported.

“We need to listen to them and consult with them personally on their health, assistance and wellbeing,” she says.

“Not just be sitting in our comfortable offices and making decisions for them.”

It has been three months since a terrorist attacked two mosques in Christchurch, killing 51, injuring 49, and leaving thousands in trauma.

Shortly after Christchurch terrorist attacks, Basharati set up the Christchurch Victims Organization Committee.

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The committee’s work involves the distribution of donated goods, handling any funding for victims, and helping people who want to apply for residency.

Volunteers accept and distribute donated foodstuffs, household goods, and they also offer a translation service.

“But I can be doing different things on any given day,” she says.

“Health is a biggie too. I am a big advocate for health,” she says. “I just want families to relax a bit more and actually have the time to grieve.”

As a Kurdish refugee herself, who came to New Zealand in 2001, Basharati knows it takes a while for people to resettle.

“You’d think when people first come to the country it is quite safe and developed but it takes some time for people resettle and feel that sense of belonging,” she says.

“We need to be more open about diverse communities and cultures within the system,” she says.

The mental health support offered by the committee is not a work of month or two.

“There is a long-term plan and vision to help these people,” she says. “At least until the end of the year.”

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand and the seat of the Canterbury Region.

It is home to 404,500 residents, making it New Zealand’s 3rd most populous city behind Auckland and Wellington.

There are about 50,000 Muslims in New Zealand and about 60 mosques and Islamic centers.

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