Make Give Live is all about community and wellbeing and so when we were offered the opportunity to be involved with helping newly arrived refugees settle into their new home here in New Zealand, we jumped at the chance.
In conjunction with the wonderful ladies at Creative Fibre and through the amazing work of RASNZ (Refugee Health and Wellbeing) we have been privileged to be able to provide the newly arrived refugees with access to crafting supplies and the voluntary service of our wonderful makers as teachers for both knitting and crochet.
The materials were pounced upon the instant they were produced at the centre, and the willingness to learn and grow a new skill was amazing to see, even through a barrier of language difference. These newly arrived Kiwis will be heading out to their new homes in the near future and we will be able, in some cases, to connect them into a ready made creative community in their area, easing the settling in process and providing them with purpose and shape to their week.
We have been so honoured to be part of this project and can't wait for the next sessions later this month.
We asked some of our amazing makers, who volunteered their Wednesday evening to drive across Auckland and share their skills to tell you a little something about the experience. Please do read on......
We came with what we imagined would be plenty of yarn and needles, but these soon went, such was the enthusiasm of the refugees to do, and learn. It was very busy as so many wanted to learn, but we got there with lots of hand signals, and smiles. I taught several ladies to knit. The second week we brought more yarn, needles and crochet hooks too. Again it went quickly. It was wonderful to see some familiar faces and new. One lady proudly showed me her knitting, she absolutely had it worked out, she was knitting, with a huge smile "Good teacher." She said to me.
Again, I taught some to knit, and others to crochet. The positivity in the room was so strong you could feel it, and it was so rewarding to be able to give these people something positive, and a new skill they can grow as they become part of NZ's people.
He aha te mea nui o te ao
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
It is hard to describe the experience of visiting the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre to show the women and girls how to knit. After we completed the registration process Sarah took us through the building and outside the door into the activities room gave us a briefing of what to expect. Some of the younger refugees were peering round the door and through the glass of the door to see us and were anxious to see what we had to offer. Once in the room everyone was anxious to get their hands on some wool and needles/crochet hooks and after the initial melee things settled down. Small groups formed and it was a pleasure to be able to show these women how we knit in New Zealand. One of my group was a capable knitter so I was able to show her how to knit cables, while others were still struggling with the basics. The smiling faces bridged the language barrier and we all managed to understand each other.
Teaching knitting at the Refugee Resettlement Centre was a profoundly rewarding experience. It was at times overwhelming and slightly chaotic but once the initial excitement settled down we were able to sit with the people and share our skills communicating with a variety of words and gestures. From there we were able to identify the more experienced and skilled knitters and with a little encouragement get them to also teach and pass on their skills. The pride they felt was obvious in their smiles. The refugees were so excited and willing to learn and being given access to the equipment, ie, knitting needles, yarn and patterns was almost too much for one woman who was in tears telling us she could now knit socks because she had DPN’s (double pointed needles). Meeting the people and knowing some of the trauma they had experienced, it was truly humbling to see the resilience they continue to show as they learn to become kiwis. It would be a privilege to continue teaching knitting and crochet to future intakes.
The feedback from the refugee centre has also been amazing, they said.....
Thank you so much to all of you who came out to the centre with such great energy and kindness. The residence has been buzzing over the opportunity to engage with you all.
Thank you to each and every person that has supported us in any way along our journey, it is because of you that we can make a difference in this way, it means the world to us x