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Women's hands holding mugs

A collective piece written by five friends who tell a story of the journey of their friendship and how it all began when they were living at Wellington Women’s House. 

In 2020 we all began our journeys with Wellington Women’s House.

Due to circumstances out of our control i.e., family deaths, domestic violence, partner separation and others, we found ourselves homeless, without financial resources and with no, or very little support from family and friends.

Through various social services around Wellington, we were all lucky to have been offered a place to stay at the Wellington Women’s House in Mount Victoria.

We quickly joined in the activities that the house had to offer and got to knowing “The Girls”. At this point we would like to acknowledge the amazing work done by Margaret and Sophie, which gave us the opportunity to try new activities, to regain our self-confidence and most importantly, our self-esteem. Activities ranged from how to write a curriculum vitae; how to apply for jobs; how to approach job interviews – all promoting self-motivating incentives. Through each of these stages, both women constantly supported and encouraged us to move forward.

We also partook in different workshops that the House offered, jewellery making, track walks around Mount Victoria, outings to the cinema, having our hair cut and done by some beautiful volunteer hairdressers. We were also extremely lucky to have Kaibosh deliveries twice each week and beautiful cakes on Sunday offered by Good Bitches Bakery. These were all gratefully received.

Below is a brief resume of the five friends:

Poppy was a bright, vibrant energy to be around. She was always busy and focused, full of drive and determination to reach her goals in life, always pushing herself to do more and do better for herself. Poppy welcomed newcomers and always helped them settle into the House. Another thing about Poppy is that she would always volunteer to help, if Margaret & Sophie needed any little jobs done. Hearing Poppy’s story encouraged us to reset our goals and once again focus on getting our lives back on track and believing in ourselves. When we met Poppy she spoke very little and broken English, however, after taking English lessons for over two years, she is almost fluent and she must be applauded for her efforts. Poppy has now been working full-time for a year and she is applying for her NZ residency.

Daisy. Straight away we noticed that Daisy didn’t really interact with the other ladies in the House and this was because of the language barrier, her English being very limited also. One of us, lovely Rose, invited her one Saturday to go to the Newtown Market and then Op Shopping. From then on, they built their friendship to the point where Rose taught Daisy how to make Nachos and other dishes, and Daisy taught Rose how to make authentic dumplings and other Asian dishes. We all learnt a lot about her culture and traditions. Daisy is now working part-time and loving it.

‘Miss Lilly’ A lovely young lady from Morocco who was also very focused and driven in what she wanted out of life. As with Daisy and Poppy, Lilly had found herself stranded in New Zealand, thousands of miles away from her family due to the Covid lockdown. We admired Lilly’s fierce independence to refuse to let any negativity drag her down. One of the major highlights that we shared with Lilly, was the day she was granted NZ Residency. Lilly is happy in the space she is in now.

Thanks to Miss Lilly we met the lovely Jasmine. Yet another focused young woman who was goal orientated. Our friendship quickly developed around the sharing of food. Rose (our resident chef) taught her how to bake simple things like cakes, slices and biscuits – Jasmine in turn, taught Rose how to make Indian Chai Tea. Thanks to Jasmine we have all learnt to be more adventurous about food and now we all try new international dishes. One of Jasmine’s highlights was when she won a scholarship through her studies at Victoria University. Sadly, for us, she has since moved to Auckland and our contact has been sporadic, but we keep trying to stay in touch. Jasmine would also like to thank Neveh who had recently started work at the Women’s House for all the support she gave her and for organising the different workshops and events for the women at the House.

Mother Violet - we met this lady during the first Christmas Party we all attended at WWH. Her wisdom and guidance of what the House and each occupant could offer, was invaluable. Sharing her story taught us how we could use that time to get our lives back in order by taking advantage of all the opportunities that were on offer and running with them. Mother Violet also cooked pots of food, mainly the vegetables given by Kaibosh for everyone to partake of. Two of Violet’s mantras are: ‘you’re never too old to learn’ and, ‘always give your best as you don’t want any regrets’. Whilst getting used to retirement, Violet was asked if she was interested and available for work, and she is now working part-time for the best social services NGO in Wellington.

Beautiful Rose – When Rose came to the House the first thing we noticed was her quiet authority. Never loud, never pushy, Rose went about her way, always focussing on the positive. Rose gave so much to the House and all its occupants, constantly cooking, well, baking is Rose’s forte, and there were always yummy biscuits, slices and cakes baked by Rose and shared around. Rose’s positive influence on the younger women at the House was always welcomed and she was sometimes envied by other less positive people. In June last year Rose secured a fixed term contract with StudyLink and she is proud to say that, as of May this year, she has gained permanent, full-time employment with StudyLink.

All through this journey we have been lucky to have Margaret beside us, encouraging us every step of the way, looking after us, supporting us. Margaret has been ‘our rock of Gibraltar’ in times of sadness, struggles and also happiness. Margaret is always happy when girls from the House succeed with their goals. For all of the times she has helped us, we are truly grateful.

The best thing about being at the Wellington Women’s House is that we have formed a very strong friendship and a sisterly bond. We have made a commitment to try and meet at least once a month to share dinner and catch up on each other’s well-being and successes. Also, we are in constant contact to support each other whenever, and whatever, the need. Our love and admiration for the amazing woman that Margaret is, and the way she has helped us all individually, and as a group, knows no bounds. For us, Margaret is the Wellington Women’s House, and without her we would not be where we are today. Thanks to her tireless efforts, all of us are employed, living independently and no longer struggling as we were when we all first met.

And with that, we say a huge thank you to Margaret Spiers, Sophie, Neveh and the Wellington Women’s House.

Thank you - Ka kite – Merci beaucoup – Xiexie – D’yzkuyu – Choukran bzaf - Dhanyawad

* We've changed the women's names to ensure their privacy.