Mothers paid to look after children
Aigaletaule’ale’a F. Tauafiafi
Fifty-five year old Niuean grandmother Nita Jackson used to work ten hours a day at Foodtown to make ends meet.
Now she doesn’t have to work anymore because she’s getting paid to look after her two grandchildren from her home in West Auckland.
Alesi Vakanofiti holding her nephew Jaxon with Amoe, Phoenyx, and Phelix.
Potentially, she can earn up to $2,000 a month if she looks after four children, but Mrs Jackson prefers two for now as she’s just started.
“This is the best thing that’s happened to me. If only I knew about it earlier I wouldn’t have spent the past five years working at Foodtown,” she told the NZ Pacific.
“I want more of our Pasifika to know about this scheme,” she says. Alesi Vakanofiti was started work from her home nearly two months ago. She looks after two children and the third is her 7-month old niece.
“I’m doing this to support my husband’s income and it gives me work while at home.” Both Nita and Alesi work as ‘Early Childhood Educators’ under Pasifika Homebase Early Childhood Education (ECE) Network based in Mangere. So far they are two of eight Educators and Pasifika Homebase want to sign up at least 20 educators according to Coordinator, Ms Marina Vaha.
Pasifika Homebase ECE Network started its operation in November 2011 and Ms Vaha is passionate it is one of the concrete actions helpful to the Pasifika community. “This is not more talk or making promises.
This is us taking ownership and helping ourselves. It’s a win-win situation where we’re offering Early Childhood Education within an Educator or child’s home; we offer employment to those who would like to work from home; we are increasing Pasifika family participation in education which is a Ministry of Education goal, we’re helping to add value and transfer our language and culture to our young generation within the framework of NZ’s national curriculum.
“So we’re getting parents involved and along the way helping them with their children’s upbringing and giving, mainly women, the opportunity to return to the work force by becoming educators from their own homes, bring in an extra income while caring for children and the option of training towards a teaching qualification if they want.”
Ms Vaha says when she was young she learned to plant taro by copying her parents planting taro at the plantation. “So for grandparents like Nita Jackson her grandchildren can learn from watching and hearing her voice.
It’s even more valuable because we have given her the opportunity instead of spending 10-hours a day at Foodtown she is spending that time educating her grandchildren and pass on her knowledge of Niuean and Tongan traditions and language to them.
And that is a valuable mix for our Pasifika community isn’t it: Our children infuse us with new ideas and energy.
Our parents remind us of who we are.” Pasifika Homebase’s philosophy ia based on a holistic approach with the child as its central focus. Where the aim is to give each child the right to grow up as a competent and confident learner and communicator, to be healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of their cultural identity and belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society.
To empower them in that way means their Educators need more than a piece of paper to say they are qualified to care for them. “I mean, what is ECE?” asked Ms Vaha.
“To me, it’s a whole lot of stuff bundled together. And what I do know working in this sector is that from ECE you learn about things such as values, protocols, your culture, your language they all come together bundled in the environment we live.
“And that means a person who we take on as an Educator may not have an ECE Level 3 or Level 4 qualification or none at all. But they would have a lot in other fields that are important for that child.”
In essence, “Because our focus is to develop the child holistically means we want to gain a whole lot more. So the person we take on board comes qualified in areas such as experience in being a mother, a grandmother, housework, weaving, knitting, managing a household, doing community work, singing, dancing, church stuff all their collated wealth over the years in the wider context.”
Each child at Pasifika Homebase is viewed as unique with their own capabilities and needs, “and we believe that our Educators, backed up by our system support adds variety, excitement for learning, fun and Pasifika values that will empower them with lifeskills to be successful in the future.”
Pasifika Homebase is an independent Early Childhood Education service that meets the Homebase Care Order, 1992. It’s licensed by the Ministry of Education to run at a minimum 20 Homebases.
It operates under the umbrella of the Nukutukulea Society managed by Ms Marina Vaha and Mr Ron Viviani.