The Te Miringa Project Addressing Homelessness
Our MIRP group began meeting in February 2016, the Year of Mercy. There are nine of us in the group, three of whom are Sisters of Mercy. The issue we discerned from the “Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor” was to help women who were homeless in the central city of Auckland, New Zealand. We noted that there was no place for only women in the city. One of our guiding stories was about a teenage boy living on the streets who was not attending school. It was discovered he was sheltering his girlfriend who remained the anonymous rough sleeper. Quickly we realised that homelessness for women was often hidden and behind the scenes.
We met regularly and researched this issue from several angles, such as, the possible number of women sleeping rough in the city; what places there were for women who were homeless; and agencies which assisted in this issue.
We were greatly encouraged by Nga Whaea Atawhai o Aotearoa Sisters of Mercy New Zealand who at a Congregation meeting promised to support this initiative and by the Auckland City Mission. Both groups were aware of the urgent need for a house for women in Auckland City.
Earlier this year we gratefully accepted the name Te Miringa for our project. It was given to us by kaumatua Chrissie and Pio Jacobs, long time friends of the Sisters of Mercy. Te Miringa means ‘to massage into life’. It comes from the story of a child who was gently massaged into life from her mother’s womb. With a name, we could then finalise a Trust, the Te Miringa Trust, in order to formalise and progress our MIRP initiative.
Our latest development was to commission a study of homelessness in women. This study, Mana Wahine, gives insights and understandings from women who are homeless and provides us with a powerful platform of ideas for developing new solutions. Mana Wahine is a first study of women who are/have been experiencing homelessness in Auckland.
Messages to: Mary Neven rsm