Welcome to the Twitter Aunties. If you’re curious about what we do, it is simply this. We provide the material needs for women who find themselves at Te Whare Marama women’s refuge in Mangere. We also help Christina, the refuge co-ordinator, and her staff to support the women in the local community who have left refuge and have stayed in touch, and continue to visit Refuge when they’re in need.
If you want to send anything directly to the Refuge, their address is:
Te Whare Marama
PO Box PO Box 43092, Mangere, Auckland 2153.
If you want to donate money to the Refuge, their bank a/c details are:
Te Whare Marama ASB 12-3076-0489694-00
Please use Jackie as the reference.
My twitter handle is @whaeapower
My email address is [email protected]
We have a closed Facebook page on https://www.facebook.com/groups/375897945880335/ - you may ask to join. Both Christina and I share needs on this page, and it gives her a way to say thank you.
The first time I went to Refuge: http://www.aunties.co.nz/2013/07/05/people-helping-people/
What it feels like to go to refuge: http://www.aunties.co.nz/2014/02/17/the-holiday-house/
What the Refuge offers: http://www.aunties.co.nz/2014/02/19/what-the-refuge-offers/
This is M’s story. I don’t publish the womens’ stories on this blog anymore – there were concerns from the Board that this was too sensitive. Christina and I decided that if the women wanted to tell their stories, then email was a much “safer”, and less public way of doing so. This story contains reference to violence.
Note: many of the women are not escaping violence, many of them are. Many of them come to refuge in their cars. They are at refuge for a variety of reasons, primary of which is to seek change or respite from their lives.
This Refuge is not part of the National Collective of Women’s Refuges. It has been operating for around 21 years, started by a lawyer from the Mangere Law Centre who dealt with many clients who were experiencing domestic violence. It is run on somewhat unconventional grounds- it’s guiding philsophies are based on the Gospel – but it does the same work as every other refuge around the country, just with less support. Because it’s not part of the Collective, there is no fundraising as such, and Christina has to apply for funding and grants as well as do all her other work.
I am allowed extraordinary access to the women, and the refuge, because Christina trusts me. She and I have built up a strong relationship over time, and we communicate regularly (via Facebook Messenger). She communicates any situations, or needs, that she thinks I/the Aunties may need to know about. I take her lead in all things, and there is little we don’t talk about. If you have any questions for her, I will relay them for you. Other needs are relayed to me via the Refuge staff on the odd occasion that I’m able to see them.
If you think you can provide anything on this list, email me at [email protected], and we’ll take it from there. . When women have specific needs, they communicate those to me. When a woman first arrives, I go to meet them, and find out what it is they think they need. At first, they are reticent, but it becomes fairly clear that I can get most things for them, so they take a while to trust that they will be provided for. I have also, now, come to know what is needed most but never asked for.
When you read this list, it is likely that you will think that quite a number of things could be sourced by going to large chain stores, and approaching them for goodwill. One of the reasons that neither Kris nor I are keen on this is that once you do that, once it becomes “big”, the Refuge is more vulnerable to attack. Big time sponsorship is not likely to be something we look at, so please bear that in mind. I also don’t have time to approach these companies. If, however, you want to approach smaller shops/retail outlets for anything, just go ahead and do that, that’s fine! If you’re going to do it in writing, please email draft to me first to look over.
Cooking Lessons: We’re always on the look out for women to join the cooking lesson roster. These are held on Tuesdays from 12-2 (Christina has funding for childcare for these hours only). If you’re into this, please email me, and I’ll put you in touch with Christina.
To go along with these, we need household appliances such as blender, blender sticks/whizzes, slow cooker etc to teach the ladies how to make soups, and home cooked easy meals.
Food: We’re constantly on the lookout to replace tins in pantry. Spaghetti, creamed sweetcorn, tinned stews, tinned fish. Also meat, and dairy products, and fruit. Online shopping and delivery direct to the refuge is the most expedient way of doing this. Please contact me and I will give you the physical address to deliver to.
The women pay to be in refuge, and they also have to buy their own food, so it’s a precious commodity. It also enables them to share food, and that leads to some lovely bonding, I’ve found.
Freezer – We’re always open to people cooking bulk meals for the freezer. The women share dinner together at night, and this is a wonderful way for them all to bond. You would need to be able to cook a meal for 6 adults, and up to 17 chn at one time.
Suitcases - many of the women arrive with only the one suitcase, or whatever they have managed to get away with in black plastic bags. When they move on to their new lives/homes, they need suitcases!
Kids clothes - 36 families a year in Refuge. Often there are 12-15 children at at time. Currently there are around 9 kids in there. They can range in age from 19 to newborn. Circumstances change very quickly at the Refuge – women come and go all the time. So clothes are a precious commodity. Thanks to all of you, not as precious as they were. But there is, obviously, an ongoing need. Any clothes that the women don’t require are put in the clothing shed, and are accessed regularly by women when they first arrive, and women in the community who are doing courses at Refuge, or just visit when they need something. A cup of tea, some company, a bit of laughter.
Undies and Bras - I’ve learned to ask this question. Many don’t have a lot of underwear they bring with them. Undies in sizes 10-22, please. Vouchers would be brilliant but actual brand new undies are even better. In the first few days after the women arrive, even if they arrive in their own cars, they are somewhat reluctant to leave the Refuge grounds, and they soon run out of clean undies. And bras are lovely because pretty things are important when you’re feeling vulnerable, lonely and more than a bit lost. I have learned – not being a bra wearer myself – that pretty bras are something the women really appreciate. Once again, in all sizes, all shapes!
Shoes – all ages, all sizes, just everything and anything
Toiletries – soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, face washing, moisturizers, handcream, razors.
Regular pamper nights, hairdresser – we’ve had this happen on an ad hoc basis, but I really want someone who is able to do this regularly, please.
Televisons/freeview boxes - being at refuge can be very boring if women are there for a while, and it’s great for them to be able to escape to their rooms, away from the hurlyburly, if they are still recovering from trauma. It’s also really hard to adapt to living in a house where there’s so many people, and lots of children who make noise! Their rooms are their sanctuary, and most don’t read, or when they arrive, are too adrenalised to focus on books. Tellies do the trick.
Technological needs: please see Rob’s website http://prng.net/donate/
Credit on phones – the women come with their own phones. We get them, to change their phone numbers, or swap sim cards but most of them have prepaid phone and operate on little or no credit.
What do women need when they leave?
Kitchen stuff: toaster, kettle, appliances? Tea towels, cutlery, cups, dinner set
Power bills – sponsor a family? Power cards.
Carseats to give to the families
Most mums drive but not with a license: helping them get a licence
Any school needs for kids new schools when they move out.
Most families in need of a vehicle: is there any trusts/organizations that would help a family with weekly payments of a car? (Family would repay car at a very low rate)
Car registrations: at $140 for 6 months registration, this is normally out of reach for the women. This is something I check on from time to time and have asked the Aunties only once before to pay for it. We have plans for setting up a givealittle page that is connected to us, and not to the Refuge, so that we can do this on a regular basis.
This is our oath:
I bear witness to the lives of the women of Te Whare Marama. I understand that their stories are confidential and I promise to be supportive, suspend judgment and continue to support as best I can. I respect the privacy of the women and their situations and I undertake to promote the support of women’s refuge without compromising safety, security and secrecy.
And this is our motto, our ethos, our reason for being.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross