Yesterday, a group of people came together to celebrate being Aunties. Not Aunties in the traditional sense. These people care about women and children they have never met. I hope to change that somewhat. That having been said it’s largely a relationship that appears to have one side.
I can assure you that it is not. The women that are the benefactors of your graciousness and kindness are appreciative beyond words. Every thing, every gestures, builds them up. Kris and I make sure they know that is true.
And no one is more an Aunty to these women and children than Christina Teikamata, the Refuge co-ordinator, and Karen, and Trish who work there too. She loves her “mummies” and seeks to do all she can to provide for them whilst they are there, and when they leave she is there too.
So what we are doing is reinforcing Christina’s efforts. Providing an invaluable base of support and resources, from which she can draw when needed. (Which is every day).
And so to last night’s meeting. I was pretty stunned at the love in that room. Poor old H1 and H2 were a bit embarrassed ( H2 said “that was AWKWARD”) but also heartened and inspired, lifted up by all that love and encouragement. And also the knowledge that other people have been where they are – people who are not poor, who are not brown. People who’ve done it, and they can do it too. People who assured them that this is the first steps to their new life. A life without violence, a life where they get to love themselves, and choose who shares that life with them, reinforced by more knowledge about what’s possible, and what it means to be safe, in all senses of the word.
The people who came to the meeting offered a range of skills, which they may not be aware they have. At the moment, we’re all feeling things out. What needs doing, and what does not. What works, and what does not. And as Christina said, if something doesn’t work, we just need to tweak it.
These were also people who are very brave – none more so than H1 and H2 who were pretty anxious about the whole thing. Having said that, I felt it was important that those who want to be Aunties have more than a passing connection with people they are helping. So that you can see that this is not a thankless effort, that people are being touched and affected, by what we are doing. That connections being made is about reciprocity, about understanding that this is not a one way street. Being so involved with the Refuge, for me, has helped me in more ways than I have helped them, to be sure.
To ensure those connections hold, and are strengthened, Christina and I want to make the meetings a monthly thing.
The first mentoring sessions – for women who have left Refuge – are on the 20th and 27th of February. Two weeks afterwards, we will have the next Aunties meeting. I hope you can be there, and add your voice to the growing army of us who seek to speak for these women and children at a time when they cannot speak for themselves.