Church withholds funds raised in New Zealand for Indian family
Hamilton: The St Thomas Marthoma Church of New Zealand has released $42,520 of the $102,764 donated earlier this year after three members of an Indian family became severely ill last year, the NZ Herald reports.
Shibu Kochummen, his mother Alekutty Daniel, and his wife, Subi Babu, suffered vomiting, convulsions and paralysis after eating wild boar last November.
The family, whose care was taxpayer-funded, spent weeks comatose in the Intensive Care Unit before recovering.
Before ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) cover was approved for Daniel, who is not a New Zealand citizen, a Givealittle page was set up by the church, where almost $30,000 was raised.
Another $70,000 was donated to the church following a separate fundraiser by other parishes.
In January, $42,000 was released to the family to travel to India, where their two young children were being cared for by relatives.
Family spokesman and Hamilton Marthoma Church parish secretary Joji Varghese said he has made several requests of the New Zealand church vicar to release the remaining funds.
He was referred to one of the church’s bishops in India, Dr P T Joseph, Mar Thoma Metropolitan, but did not receive a response to his inquiries about the $60,224 still owed to the family.
Varghese said the Hamilton parish has put their concerns in writing and have threatened to turn the matter over to police if the matter is not resolved.
The bishop and New Zealand vicar, president and Reverent VT Kurian did not respond to emails from the Weekend Herald.