A sumptuous high tea held at Whanganui's Bushy Park Homestead will ultimately benefit a community in Rwanda.
Organised by Kim Ostern, Lillian Chamberlain, Vivienne McClintock, Patricia (Pat) Goldfinch and Carmel Hurdle, the event was a fundraiser for a community in the Gicumbi District and included a trip on a vintage double decker bus and an auction of more than 80 donated items.
Since 2013 Carmel, a former social worker who retired last year, has been going to Rwanda during her "holidays" with Open Home Foundation International, a charitable trust with a Christian base.
"There are mainly women in the Gicumbi area and many are HIV positive," Carmel said.
"Their husbands have died, they have fostered children where their parents have died. They've also been hit hard by the genocide.
"I run training courses and workshops around care and protection of children.
"I work with an agency called PHARP [Peace, Healing and Reconciliation Programme]. We partner with that NGO and run courses together.
"After the genocide PHARP was invited into communities affected to do reconciliation, then we do training on the care and protection of children then follow through with a project.
"Following the courses we listen to what people need and help them to set up sustainable programmes that are going to bring money into the small community to meet the education and health needs of their children and also improve diet and general living circumstances."
That has resulted in a sheep project, starting with about 10 sheep and now extending to more than 100 families, a pig project with the offspring of the initial 10-12 pigs being given to about 96 families, and a banana plantation project.
There is also a sewing course for young women and the group supports a carpentry course for young men, set up by another organisation.
"In 2019 a friend said she wanted to come with me [to Rwanda]," Carmel said.
"Then six wanted to come - four from Whanganui and two from the Wellington area. So I organised a trip for the women.
"We took funds raised with us as well as educational and sewing equipment. We had two big suitcases full and Air Chathams didn't charge for the extra suitcases which is great.
"When we went over we had raised enough to set up a sewing facility for 20 people, 10 who had to be parenting on their own.
"We also raise money to buy sewing machines for girls who graduate but wouldn't be able to buy their own machines."
There is some malnutrition in the Gicumbi area. Carmel said the community had someone with expertise in that field and they needed a room to run workshops and training around child nutrition.
That has led to the New Zealand group raising money to build an addition to an existing piggery building.
"They have an area near the building where they grow crops and the room will be a focal point for this community," Carmel said.
The Bushy Park high tea was to raise money for the additional room, with the 52 tickets selling out quickly.
"We raised far more than we imagined," Carmel said. "We will be able to finish the building, equip it and furnish it. Tickets sold very quickly - there was even a wait list - so we may think about doing it again."
Carmel and her group now meet monthly to discuss how they can continue to help the community.
It's a passion for Carmel and she would love to return as soon as she can, but Covid-19 means it's difficult to plan a trip.
"I don't know when I will get back. I would love to see how some of those people are going."