Homeless and nine months pregnant, Anita is in crisis. Needing support, she found herself in the hands of Whānau Ora Kaiārahi, Renee.
Anita’s unborn baby’s father is receiving medical treatment following a serious injury. She followed him to Auckland but knows no one.
Anita’s difficult past saw her first two boys taken from her. Her then partner gained custody, taking the boys to live in Australia where they have been ever since. “I lost the plot and ended up in jail,” says Anita. “It was the worst thing in my whole entire life, I was just so angry.”
Despite making some positive changes that saw her complete a chef qualification and win silver at New Zealand Culinary Arts, Anita’s life took another turn for the worse. Alone and in labour with her third son she’s told that due to her past, her baby will be taken from her. “I didn’t want to push, I didn’t want to push him out. But as soon as I heard from my brother that they wouldn’t be taking him, he came out”.
She gave birth with the support of her kaiārahi and aunty. Through these connections and support, Anita was allowed to keep her baby. “My mentality was totally different to the mentality I have now, says Anita. “I was angry and had a ‘stuff everything’ attitude, the system is all wrong and it’s everybody else, it’s not me.”
Her aunty had taken her in and supported the bid to keep her newborn son. “I was awhi-ed, I had the support that I needed. My mentality started to change. I got counselling and realised actually it is me, I need to work on a lot of things, I started taking it on board and taking everything in my stride.”
Through her Kaiārahi, Anita took programmes and courses to help develop as a mother. She did one so well she became a leader in the programme and has since been kept on as a volunteer. Anita’s journey became calmer. Her talent’s and knowledge surfaced and kaiārahi Renee encouraged her to get more involved with weaving and sharing cultural knowledge with others. “I wanted to incorporate toi (art) into the programme and through Anita helping to teach weaving, other’s saw what she does and wanted her involved with their programmes too,” says Renee.
Kaiārahi Renee worked to finally allow Anita to see her two sons, after seven years apart. It’s the first time she’s seen her boys since they moved to Australia and it “healed a lot of old hurts” and rebuilt relationships between a mother and her children.
Anita’s sons stayed with her for a month giving Anita an opportunity to prove herself. Since that trip, the boys’ father sends them back to Aotearoa in the holidays and is now more supportive of his sons getting to know their mother, and trusting that Anita is able to care of them and herself.
Moving forward Anita says that the pain of the last seven years has healed and she now looks to a brighter future with her sons.
“I can see a future for me now, a happy future. Before I couldn’t have envisioned that I am capable of making something of myself and for my family. Embrace all the help. If I can do it, anyone can. The services are there to help. That’s the best advice I could give anyone.” says Anita.
Anita’s story shows that although life has its ups and downs taking care of yourself empowers you to take care of others. Through this, she’s now on the path of healthy and strong relationships.