WeCARe! Foundation gives support to the vulnerable and marginalised women, children and youths through a Care Group. A Care Groupis a centre set up by a Care Motherwho has voluntarily offered to provide support for the most vulnerable members of her community. She then recruits volunteer assistantsto help support activities within the Care Group.
Where we operate
WeCARe! currentlyoperatesten care groupsbased in the settlements (slums)of Port Moresby. These settlements have risen mainly due to the migration of people from other provinces of Papua New Guinea to the capital in search of a better life. That is, an opportunity to find employment, access to education and health services all of which are lacking in the provinces. For some of these migrants, they are here due to tribal fights, where relatives have been killed,homes destroyed and they too are threatened and literally running for their lives.
As a result, these people have “bought” or settle on land in areas usually close to the suburbs while some are in the outskirts of Port Moresby. Almost all the houses you come across are semi-permanent and do not have access to electricity and water. Their only source of water is a public water tap that is a fair distance away.
The strength of WeCARe!’s operation lies in the community based Care Groupsthat reach out to help members within the local settlement.
This approach both empowers and develops skills in people who may feel helpless; and also allows a greater reach to the most vulnerable in the community.
Within the Care Groups the focus is on educating and providing basic provisions for vulnerable young children and people living with a disability.
WeCARe! does not take away the responsibility of communities to look after themselves, but empowers and provides the support for communities to look out for their own needs.
Starting Care Groups
A Care Groupstarts when a community group through the Care Mother approaches WeCARe! for support. The Program Officer then goes into the community with the Care Mother and conducts an awareness program on the work of WeCARe!and how the organisation can help them.
Each new Care Group is assessed to ensure their legitimacy and that their vision is aligned to that of WeCARe!’s.
WeCARe! requires that there must be support from the community both morally and financially. Although it is acknowledged that their financial support is minimal, by knowing that the community is willing to put their money where their mouth is ensures that the Care Centre is more secure, safer and less likely to be vandalised.
We register orphans, children from a single parent family, disabled persons particularly children or children of disabled parents, vulnerable youths and only one child from a family that is extremely poor and both father and mother are present. Once registered, school fees, medical assistance, special need support and training is given to assist and empower individuals in the group.
We assist with school and project fees for our registered vulnerable and marginalised children and youths in elementary, primary and secondary schools and tertiary institutions.
Early Childhood Learning Centres
The Care Mother and her assistants run an early childhood learning centre usually in the care mother’s backyard for our vulnerable registered children to attend. Many of these children would not normally be able to attend school for various reasons. WeCARe! supports this project by providing materials such as teaching aids, stationery, reading books and toys for the children to play with. We also get the care mother and her assistants to attend relevant trainings to be well prepared to teach.
Through this particular project, we have taken children off the streets and are setting a good foundation for them.
One of WeCARe’s success stories is the Mercy Care Group. This Care Group offers basic education for kindergarten and pre-primary level.
In the past the children from the settlements did not have the opportunity to go to school at a young age because their parents could not afford the school fees or the required uniform.
Most of the children who go to the Mercy Early Learning Care Centre are from parents who are street vendors, market sellers or single parents. Many of the families struggle with enough money to care for their families.
The Care Mother, Pauline came to Port Moresby due to tribal fighting in her home village. She too was a street vendor, but managed to save some funds to set up a small chicken farm. Although it was constantly raided by local raskols, Pauline did run a successful small business.
A few years ago she saw an even bigger need and selflessly gave up the farm and turned the chicken houses into classrooms. This is a huge sacrifice for her and her family.
WeCARe! has helped in supplying teaching resources to the centre and recently helped pay for the materials to build two toilets and two shower blocks for the children.
Like other settlements in Port Moresby this Care Centre does not have running water, but through the assistance of one of our volunteers, this centre would possibly have water quite soon.
For Pauline, she started her care group because there was a high rate of crime and poverty in her community. She does not want children in her community to grow up and live in poverty and be involved in crime. She wants to educate them that they may turn out to be good citizens of PNG. “There must be change in the community”.
WeCARe has been supporting this Care Group since 2011.
WeCARe!organizesor provides access totraining or to money earning projects such as chicken raising or floristry for vulnerable women in the community to enable them to earn a living. By empowering these women they are able to take care of themselves and their families and thus reduce the number of vulnerable children.There are many single mothers living in extreme poverty with no help at all from the government or the children’s father. These women really struggle to get by each and every day.
People living with a disability
In Papua New Guinea, people living with a disability are ignored and neglected. They lack education, medical help, information and appropriate services. There is no suitable transport and they do not have the money to pay for help which adds to their problems. Many of them have no idea where to go to seek help and assistance. They are totally hidden away.
Furthermore, families can be ashamed and without suitable knowledge on how to deal with the disability may actually not care for the disabled family member at all.
Through the WeCARe! Care Groups we identify the disabled,provide medical attention, food, clothing, basic necessities and aids like crutches and wheelchairs where needed.
Through our work, we come across a lot of vulnerable people particularly children. These children are in such a situation because of their family background.Whether they are orphans, come from a single parent family where the parent is unemployed or a family where both parents are unemployed and have a lot of children. We assist these individuals and families by handing out donated food and toiletries we receive.
WeCARe! helps youths between the ages of 18 and 25 who come from a background where they have not completed their schooling due to not being able to pay for school fees, or due to the PNG educational policy they dropped out before completing their schooling or simply come from an unfortunate family.
WeCARe! Supports or gives another opportunity to these young people by paying for their school fees to attend vocational or technical schools to take up a trade. We also direct them to training courses or money earning projects.
WeCARe! provides medical assistance to the severely disabled so that they may be diagnosed or when they are sick. We pay for their medication and provide wheel chairs and crutches.
Health and Information
WeCARe! sees that, our clients cannot always be dependent on us. Our role is to empower them. We do this by disseminating information. Information on health issues, women’s issues, where to go to receive basic services. “Knowledge is power”.
Every year we hold Christmas parties for the registered children in our care groups. They are either in our early childhood learning centres or in the main stream primary schools and those with a disability.
On a number of occasions we have invited street children to partake. These are children who beg on the streets of Port Moresby, sell items such as pirated movies or cheap perfumes and direct traffic for some loose change. Our aim of involving these children is in the hope that they would come under our care that we may give them another opportunity in life by sending them to school but they have refused saying that this was the only way they would get food in their stomachs. If they were to go to school they would return home hungry each day.
However, the majority of the children present at the party are from the settlements. This, for many is the only time where they would experience the joy of Christmas. There are a lot of fun games, food and presents thanks to our wonderful sponsors. The children return home clean, fed and completely exhausted with a lot of tales to tell their family and friends.