Invercargill woman Cindy has recently completed Taputapu Mātua (Parenting Programme) and, together with friend Jordon, Te Rourou Pai Oranga (Nutrition Programme).
They discuss their experiences:
Cindy: I lost my four children to Oranga Tamariki about four years ago due to my methamphetamine use, and I started staying on my friend Jordon’s couch feeling lost, depressed and anxious. Jordan had just taken on his sister’s children and we acted as each other’s support systems throughout it all.
I hadn’t had an easy life up until that point. I self-harmed, and had spent most of my childhood in care and mental institutions. My mother had mental health issues and would sometimes assault me, and my father was a drug addict.
At around 15, I moved in with my Dad who was on the methadone programme. It turned out he had diabetes and he lost limbs. I cared for him for around three years until he was then diagnosed with cancer and placed into a home.
Later, I had my children and, not wanting to be like my own parents, I tried my best as a Mum. I tried so hard to avoid them being put in care but, unfortunately, I became trapped in a vicious drug cycle. Inevitably, my children were taken into care.
I started doing everything I possibly could to get my children back. I changed my whole life and isolated myself from my entire friend group. I stopped using drugs, I participated in parenting courses, and counselling. Whatever I was told to do, I did it.
Eventually I got my children back, but it came with its issues. We all suffered separation anxiety and still do. I still suffer from anxiety, especially if I have to attend an appointment or answer a phone call.
With my children back in my care, I was looking for some advice around parenting and nutrition. I asked a Nga Kete staff member if I could attend the parenting course. I was worried about my children and my parenting, but I was anxious of other people attending the group.
The facilitator said I could attend the course one-on-one to ease my anxiety and it was so beneficial for me. I learnt so many things! One of the biggest was to carry out short consequences rather than dragging things out. I learnt how important it is to get down to their level and see things from their point of view. It has made parenting easier for me and I feel like my children are happier now, and better behaved. My son, especially, is like a completely different child in terms of his behaviour.
Following the parenting course I asked to attend the Nutrition Course and Jordon decided to join me. My anxiety had started to ease because the facilitator had made me feel so comfortable during the parenting course that I decided to attend the Nutrition Course groups.
Through this, we learnt how to cook nutritional meals for the kids, and how to make things out of leftover ingredients, which was very beneficial for us as we are on a budget.
It opened our minds around using different foods and not wasting as much. These courses have been incredibly helpful for us!
Te Rourou Pai Oranga (Nutrition Programme)
A five-week programme aimed to connect whanau with cost effective and healthy nutritional recipes and ideas, budgeting, how to cook and an understanding of Maori kai.
Taputapu Mātua (Parenting Programme)
A six-week programme aimed to connect parents with information, advice and services.
How to refer? You can self-refer, or referrals can be made by other agencies. Contact us on Free Phone 0800 925 242