Stranded medical aid ship home for Christmas

Marty Emmett standing beside the YWAM Koha. Supplied photos.

Youth with a Mission Ships NZ has raised the $200,000 needed to have its stranded medical aid  ship repaired and brought home to New Zealand by Christmas. 

The charity of volunteers, who freely donate their time and expertise, appealed for help to save its medical aid ship after an issue with the tailshaft left it stranded in Lautoka, Fiji as cyclone season was setting in. 

The ‘YWAM Koha’ and its crew of volunteers were providing medical aid to isolated communities in Fiji when an issue with a bearing in the tailshaft was discovered, leaving the organisation with a $300,000 bill. 

The organisation was able to pay $100,000, leaving a $200,000 shortfall. Trinity Lands offered to match every donation up to $100,000, so YWAM Ships NZ appealed to New Zealanders to cover the shortfall of $100,000 by November 28. 

YWAM Ships managing director Marty Emmett says the target was hit over the weekend. 

“We’re just buzzing and completely blown away by the generosity of New Zealanders. It actually makes us emotional to know there are people who care about reaching our Pacific neighbours with  medical aid. 

“We’ll now be able to get our ship repaired and back home by Christmas, so we can avoid cyclone season, restock and head back to our friends in the Pacific in May.

“To everyone who donated: thank you, thank you, thank you. Please be a  part of our family and sign up for updates so you can see what your help will achieve this next season.”

The YWAM Koha was originally built in 1968 in Germany as a buoy tender and was used as a ferry between NZ and Pitcairn Island before being gifted to YWAM Ships NZ in 2019 as a gift—hence the name ‘Koha’. 

The ship is 48m long and is fitted with two dental clinics and equipment to set up pop-up clinics on land, and is based in Tauranga. 

The YWAM Kohaat sea.

During Covid, while borders were closed, YWAM ships pioneered a free dental clinic in New Zealand communities experiencing poverty, providing free dental care and oral health education to more than 3000 kiwis in need. 

Marty says this is something they’re keen to continue. 

“People tell us ‘I can eat now. I can sleep now. I can go get a job now and get off the benefit. I have my confidence restored. But the greatest thing we hear is ‘I can smile again’. We’re seeing people smiling at each other again, including communities that have had generations of gang involvement. 

“I think we're best as kiwis when we’re looking  after our communities and neighbours in need.”

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