L’Oréal employees swapped out their beauty products for spades and cooking utensils recently to create outdoor garden beds, plant vegetables and make award-winning NZ chefs Kasey and Karena’s family recipe marmalade for the Refugees as Survivors (RASNZ) community. The initiative is part of the cosmetics company’s annual Citizen Day.
Recognising the plight of displaced peoples around the world, this year, the company chose to partner with RASNZ. This NGO is assisting more than 1300 refugee families from Syria, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Iraq and Somalia, to settle into their new life in New Zealand.
A group of the cosmetics company’s employees visited the homes of ten refugee families in the Mt Roskill, Mt Albert, Three Kings and Mangere East areas, where they built outdoor kitchen garden beds and planted vegetables. Others helped renovate the RYAN Youth Centre, while the rest of the employees packed out Care packs and made marmalade for the community.
L’Oréal New Zealand executive General Manager Martin Smith says the idea behind the initiative is to show refugees that their new community cares about them. It is also an opportunity to send a message to other organisations to help support this vulnerable group and show them the true Kiwi spirit.
“When we learnt that often refugees experience a loss of purpose when they resettle and building garden beds was one way to help give them a daily interest and ritual, we were keen to help. Having a vegetable patch in the backyard is a kiwi tradition and something the whole family can get involved with, especially with spring around the corner,” he notes.
“What astounds me most is how grateful these people are for the smallest of gestures. They are so humble and no kind deed goes unnoticed. Our team is honoured to be able to help make a difference and welcome these good people into our neighbourhoods, and it also just feels good to do good,” Smith adds.
Children living in foster care at the Dingwall Community home presented the families with seedlings they have grown from their garden, which itself was built by the L’Oréal teams during last year’s Citizen Day.
L’Oréal also donated 20 laptop computers to the families in need as well as beauty products, care packages and jars of handmade marmalade. The day’s activities wrapped up with L’Oréal, RASNZ staff and the wider refugee community gathering for an afternoon tea celebration and cultural performance.
Citizen Day was launched internationally in 2010 and is now one of the main initiatives of L’Oréal’s CSR program “Sharing Beauty with All”. It aims to embody L’Oréal’s commitment to social responsibility during one day of collective voluntary action by its employees. In 2015, 25,000 L’Oréal employees worldwide gave 200,000 hours of voluntary work to beneficiaries in need of help.