Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

This is what friends are for: She gave her friend shelter. Her friend gave her a car.

Brenda Sekona with daughters Cherlese, 11, and Caroline, 3, and their new car.
Brenda Sekona with daughters Cherlese, 11, and Caroline, 3, and their new car.

Have so many tears ever been shed over a 2004 Toyota Passo?

Emotions took hold when Foketi Purcell gave her longtime friend Brenda Sekona a car, a thank you for taking her and her family in when two years earlier they had nowhere else to go.

The first tears were shed by Mrs Purcell, who wept as she bought a reliable little blue car for her friend. Ms Sekona and her 11-year-old daughter Cherlese were next, bursting into tears when told of Mrs Purcell's generosity. Caroline Sekona, 3, cried because everyone else was.

It started two years ago, when Ms Sekona took in Mrs Purcell, her husband and their teenage daughter after they were evicted from their home. Three weeks later they had a new rented home, again thanks to Ms Sekona.

It was an act of generosity that would not be forgotten. In fact, it would come full circle.

Back on her feet financially, Mrs Purcell this month began delivering gifts to those who had helped. But for Ms Sekona, she wanted to do more.

Come out to dinner, she asked. She couldn't, said Ms Sekona. She didn't own a car.

So the friend once given shelter decided to pay it forward. She bought the $4000 Toyota Passo.

"I don't forget. I always remember those who helped me in my time of need and something just stirred in my heart ... I was crying through the whole process."

The act of generosity has changed the family's life. Previously, she and Cherlese had to walk to pick up Caroline from daycare, making the 10-minute journey home at 6pm, when it was dark, sometimes raining.

Watching her kids' reactions to the views from the car window was beautiful, she said. "I don't know how to put it into words."

- NZ Herald

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