Our students come back after the school holidays and they’re just really skinny. And, of course, they haven’t actually had a holiday - there’s no financial resource for that. The main challenge we face is whānau having ‘too much week at the end of the money.’ They call it “No Money Monday’ or ‘The Poor Day.’
I’ve been in those places myself, so I have an intimate understanding of what those days look like and how they feel. It was incredibly hard. I would try and keep $20 for Mondays but having small children at the time it wasn't achievable. There was never enough money for food. So, there would be days that I wouldn’t eat, so that they could. I never got new clothes. I borrowed money to buy my kids’ shoes. It was a really trying time.
Our town has one supermarket and one chemist. We have no banks, no dentist, no clothing, or shoe outlet. So, the limitations here are vast, we're marginalised by our location alone. But despite the roadblocks, we remain hopeful. Our whānau are robust and resilient, and we look after each other the best we can. We’re a collective.
Before the holidays we made food parcels for our families with supplies from KidsCan. I felt like Santa Claus. Those are the things that make you feel like you've put a little safety net under these children over that break. Now they’re back, we love feeding them again.
Students come back to school feeling embarrassed because they don’t have what they need. Quite often the eldest gets their uniform or stationery first as it’s what the family can afford, but the youngest child doesn’t get anything. One of our learning support coordinators will discretely buy the kids’ stationery. We love them in every way we can, whether it's just giving them something for breakfast or a pair of shoes and socks, so school is a safe place.
We need to wrap these kids in support. No child should go hungry. We have the lunches in school programme, and our head chef is incredible. He cooks everything from scratch. We have KidsCan snacks for morning tea, so the kids are getting fed throughout the whole day. KidsCan is an intricate part of the fibre of our community. If a child comes in with no shoes and socks on his tiny feet, it’s really comforting to know that I can just go into the store and give him some KidsCan shoes to keep him warm. You can start the day with this child on a more positive note. It really is about the little things for these children. - School Teacher
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