Today was a watershed day. A few days ago, we crossed the $10,000 threshold on our givealittle page. https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/aunties
I didn’t notice until today. For shame. However, when I reached the page, I had to look twice to make sure that what I was seeing was accurate. And yes, it was. I immediately burst into tears. And I want you to know why, and who has done this.
If you go to the givealittle page, there is a precis of what it’s for. To feed the women in refuge. and their kids. They pay board, and they pay for their own food, and as I’ve said before, us being able to do this for them means we remove some basic worries, and free them up to do the thinking and being they need to, to be okay in their lives.
All that money goes to food shopping. Not one cent of it is for anything else. No admin costs, no extra hidden costs. Just food. For the women.
Some of you may know the genesis of this, but it bears repeating.
In December 2013, I went to refuge to drop something off and for the first time opened the pantry doors. My jaw dropped. It was pitiful, and there and then I knew that I had to do something about it. All of what the Aunties do for the women is meaningful, but I have come to learn that nothing is more meaningful to them than food, and the provision of it by strangers, represented by me, they know have their backs. They don’t expect it, they are always blown away and a bit confused as to the why, and they always know what it means.
The person who really makes this all happen is Vicky Rawhiti Forbes. Not only is she one of my closest friends, she is also the creator of our givealittle page, and the shopping/distribution planner. I tend to go through life thinking everything will be okay in the end, that it will all work out, and it usually does to an extent. But without Vicky, none of this would work. She knows what’s important and keeps me grounded.
So far, since August, we have done two shopping trips and a huge Xmas shop. We are refining processes and learning as we go.
That we can’t pack the food boxes at refuge, what foods are most needed, how many people we need for each shop, what distribution has to look like. We have learned how much an average spend will be, and we have consulted the women and the refuge coordinator on all aspects.
You have to know that the first time was horrendous – the shopping is the easy, fun bit. It’s no hassle at all. The distribution has created a few headaches, and we’re always aware of fairness, and what counts most. It is best, we have found, to pack at the supermarket, and to have the tubs ready when we get to refuge so that it doesn’t all come across too much like a food bank. Which are sadly necessary, but ultimately humiliating for the recipient. The food we provide is enough to last them a week or more, but not much more. It’s a start, far more than I dreamed of, realistically, and we try to stretch it as far as we can.
So here we are. Enough money, in the bank account we have set up for this express purpose, to keep us going for the next wee while. But bearing in mind how much we spend on each shop – over $800 for 5 families – that doesn’t go too far for too long. We still need your help, we always need your help. We can do nothing without your help.
And so to today. I was completely overcome. So overwhelmed. The refuge is a huge part of me, of my life. There aren’t many days I’m not doing some sort of refuge business. But this bit? The food bit? That’s my dream. And I have a bigger dream. Not only to keep on doing this, but to get us to a place where we are providing most of the women’s food. It may prove to be impossible, but I will keep on trying. Because this is incredibly important to me. And I can never ever express how thankful I am to Vicky, and to all of you who put money in our food account, and all of you who give us money via givealittle.
Because my big dream gets one step closer. Seems more possible. I have never talked about this bigger dream before, to anyone. It sits in my heart all the time, just quietly. Every time I visit refuge, I imagine it. Every time I listen to one of the women talking to me about her life, I smile secretly. It’s been my secret for a while. Quite a long while. And I disclose it here, so that you know it. See it. Understand it.
I told the refuge coordinator about all of this, showed her the blog, and asked her if she would speak to you a little, and here is what she had to say.
“On behalf of the refuge staff and refuge women and children, we would like to thank all who have contributed and donated. Families arrive in crisis and through their journey at the refuge: courses, guidance, Gods love, and donations, their load is lighter. I have seen the difference this has made with some of them giving back to society by starting social work degrees, volunteering, returning to work and being able to love their children more from all the support they have had. I find that New Zealanders are quick to give opinions but those that do act to help in some way, help change the lives of families, one family at a time.”
Peace and blessings be to all of you. Dream makers, that’s what you are. Every single one of you.
Thank you. Words, on this day, and every day, I find so easy to say.