17/12/2012 19:44

We(don’t)CARe! about the money, but the children!

By Fr. John Glynn OL – WeCare! Foundation

Looking Forward to 2013

14 DEC 2012. WeCARe! has had a good year. I don’t know how many children, young people, and their Carers have received help from us, but it is over 500 all told. We have a number of project areas. We have educational support, where we pay school fees for a number of children and young people who are not in the national system where there are no fees. We have our feeding programs for Care Group children, and our special nutrition program for kids like Pamela who has marasmus - a disorder caused by starvation. We have our programs for the disabled, providing wheel chairs, crutches, adult nappies and so on. We have our support programmes for pre-school education in the settlements, which includes sending young women for teacher training. And we have our empowerment programmes for ‘Carers’, their Assistants and other single mothers in the settlements.

Our Staff

One our most important programmes - in fact I would list it first of all! - is our staff training. Without the proper staff WeCARe! would be a useless waste of time and money. However, our budget is so small that we could never afford to hire highly qualified and experienced staff at the going rates in the city. After considerable trial and error - and a few unpleasant experiences - we now have staff who are worth their weight in gold!

Sandra is our Care Group Coordinator. We employed her straight out of one of the Care Groups. She is from the Highlands and grew up in the settlements of the city. She knows her way around the most crime ridden areas of the city, and she knows the life that the poorest of the poor are forced to live, so when she is talking to the ‘Carers’, the young women and single mothers, she can relate to them as one of themselves. She battled her way through school to earn herself a full education, and she is smart and as tough as she needs to be. This is the first job she has had.

Winnie is a former student of mine, and of Josephine’s. She is our data clerk and PR and IT person. She also has a driving license. This is Winnie’s first job too. She is on a steep learning curve as she masters the programmes she uses on her computer.

Deborah was a real find. After leaving school she did an accounting course at a technical institution, and then got a job in one of our Catholic schools. The work was quite beyond her and her boss was not happy. Fortunately, Josephine spotted her. (Josie is our Program Manager, Executive Director and Co-Founder of WeCARe!) Josie recruited Deborah for WeCARe! and she has turned out to be a real gem. She is smart, intelligent and a quick learner. Under the guidance of Josie, and our new Volunteer from Australia - Vanessa - both Deborah and Winnie are developing very quickly. They are not merely learning how to use their computers and produce the files and records that are required of them - they are also becoming innovative and creative in their approach to their tasks. The knowledge, skills and experience all three of these young women are gaining will not only benefit WeCARe! but will set each of them on a great career path.

Our Budget

Drawing up our budget for 2013 has caused us real headaches. We are spending far too much on management and administration - core costs - which should be no more than 10% but are in fact twice that. The problem is that our income is so small, while building up the effectiveness of our staff and our procedures is so expensive. This doesn’t bother me as we are in the business of empowering women, so money spent on the personal and professional development of our staff is in line with our basic aims, and is money well spent. But it doesn’t look good when we are applying for support to a funding agency.

The GOOD NEWS is that at last we have fully audited accounts for the years 2007, ‘08, ‘09 and ‘10. And we are signing a contract for audits for 2011 and ‘12. It has taken a long time to get this done, as our records were in such a mess, and firms we asked to do the work all wanted much money - as much as 20% of our total budget in fact. The work has been done pro bono and future audits will be at a special rate we can afford, thanks to a local firm that is doing very well and wants to give back to the community.

Be Warned! We are under funded for the work we are planning for 2013 so I will be appealing widely for support. In the meantime,


A Christmas Story

Little Michael is a six years old settlement kid. A few weeks ago he began complaining of severe pain in the area of his kidneys. He began passing blood and what looked like sand when he peed. At the General Hospital he was diagnosed with kidney stones. His mother was told that he could join the queue and wait for some time before having an operation, or she could pay K300 cash and her child would be operated on immediately. Michael’s cousin, Lina is in Year 7 and is one of the kids I help. She came and told me the story. I gave her my WeCARe! card for Michael’s mother to pass on to the doctor assuring him that I would pay all costs involved on receipt of a written invoice from him. Michael was admitted to hospital at once and operated on two days ago by a visiting lady surgeon from Australia who offers her services at no cost to anyone. No requests were made to me for any payment. Michael is doing fine and will be home for Christmas. (WeCare! Newsletter, December 2012)

Fr. John M. Glynn P.O. Box 1099 Boroko, N.C.D. Papua New Guinea +675 7247 1521 <jonmglyn@gmail.com>