When Roni Albert, Manager of Hamilton’s Te Whakaruruhau Māori Women’s Refuge asked fashion designer Annah Stretton to help the refuge become sustainable, she was blown away by the response.
Roni, who is a member of the E Tu Whānau Maori Reference Group, approached Annah to talk about Te Whakaruruhau’s services and the difficulties it has accessing sustainable funding because government and community spending is so limited at the moment.
Annah’s response was immediate. She learnt how Te Whakaruruhau operates and visited one of its secure safe houses where she and Annah met with the 15 women living there at the time, one of whom was 23-year-old Krystal.
“Krystal’s story left Annah feeling emotionally raw. She couldn’t believe that some women had such tough lives so you turned that feeling around and created RAW, ‘Reclaiming Another Woman’,” Roni says.
RAW links refuge clients with a female mentor who can walk beside them to identify a career path and the steps they need to take to get them there.
“RAW has become our dream and aspiration because it will create opportunities for our women to consider other life styles outside of their volatile relationships.”
“When women return to the community they face all sorts of challenges. They often have limited qualifications, if any, but it’s hard for them to move forward. Maybe childcare is too expensive or it doesn’t fit the hours required for either a job or tertiary opportunities. We want to support them but up to now, we’ve have to rely on them making contact with us.”
Roni says RAW offers our women the opportunity to extend their vision of how their life can be. “They realise that they don’t have to be stuck at home having to waiting for the kids to grow up or go to school before getting qualifications and taking steps to build their career if they don’t want to.”