Raising a village in Camillo

We’ve all heard the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ Louise Pekan, part-time outreach worker at The Billabong Uniting Church, puts this into action and more; believing it takes a village to support mums too.

With a passion for children and families, Louise felt called to start a Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group in Camillo, a suburb in the City of Armadale. With assistance from members of The Billabong Uniting Church, the program launched in May last year and meets at the Kelmscott Church of Christ.

“Surrounding the area is Armadale and Kelmscott which have a lot of programs running out of them, a lot of infrastructure, support groups, and community centres and things,” Louise said. “But Camillo itself has kind of been left alone to a great degree.

“So we have seen that space, where particularly the schools and the families are struggling to gain support from outside sources, and have kind of gone, ‘how can we bring in some of the things that we know and know how to do well, encourage others, equip them and empower them to do that themselves?’”

Connecting with MOPS Australia and MOPS International, the MOPS program in Camillo provides a two-hour fortnightly kid-free space for mums with young children to participate in workshops and activities designed to empower them as mothers.

Louise explained that each term the group will also focus on an outward project, such as creating birth kits for midwives in developing countries. This reminds those involved of their place in a global community of mothers and families.

There are currently around 35 mothers from the community attending the MOPS group in Camillo, some who have stepped up into leadership roles within the program.

The program has been such a success, that the team were approached by Camillo’s Grovelands Primary School and asked to provide some support to mums at the school. The MUMSnext program will aim to create a community of mothers within the school who support, encourage and inspire each other to be the best they can be.

Louise, a mother of four herself, said that working with the MOPS program and seeing the transformations in some of the mothers involved has been an exciting journey.

“Although it’s really hard, the transformations are pretty huge. So when you do see something it’s very impressive; it’s kind of life changing.”

Inspired?

The Billabong Uniting Church’s MOPS group is currently in need of volunteers. If you are able to support families during a time of struggle, or could help care for children in a crèche while their mother’s take part in the program, contact Louise at louise@thebillabong.org.au.

For more  information on MOPS Australia visit http://mops.org.au/. Or for MOPS International visit http://www.mops.org/.

Heather Dowling

Top image: mums and bubs at the Camillo MOPS Group.

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