Kind Hearts Needed

By Ilona Hanne

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Two women bringing a message of hope to abused and neglected children in New Zealand and Australia for nearly three years, have "absolutely no intention" of stopping anytime soon they say.

Katrina Crews and Caro Cragg, who met through an online forum discussing the problem of child abuse, set up 4thekidz in 2012, after seeing what Katrina describes as "a need to do things in a certain way, focused on strengthening families".

Since then, their charitable organisation has grown in numbers as well as scope of projects. With offshoots such as Tedz for the Kidz, which aims to give teddybears, blankets and even a diary or notebook to children who come to the attention of police investigative teams, especially in the forensic field, the women say they are in desperate need of more volunteers to help them.

"We need cultural advisors, business advisors, people who can help us make things happen, as well as more volunteers to collect donations, and to distribute them when needed," says Katrina. Thanks to a great board of trustees along with all the members they have already, she says they are coping with the work load.

However, they would love to have more people join them.

A key difference between 4thekidz and other groups set up to tackle the issue of child abuse is their willingness to also work with the offenders.

We need to strengthen the families, to better equip the next generation of parents in order to protect the children who have yet to be born.

Caro says that while a parent may lose custody of their children following an abuse conviction, that doesn't mean that they will not have more children, or lose contact completely with their children. "For the sake of the children, we need to help the parents find their way, to change their behaviours and to be able to make positive changes.

"We are non-judgemental, and can walk alongside parents offering practical and holistic help."

Caro and Katrina can both empathise with the young victims of abuse, having both experienced it first-hand themselves as children.

"What hurt just as much as the actual abuse, was the people not seeing it, or even seeing me, I felt invisible." Katrina says that this is what they hope they can change, from the simple act of giving a vulnerable child a special teddy, to raising awareness of the issue both nationally and internationally.

If you would like to know more about the work that Caro and Katrina are doing, see www.4thekidz.org.nz

- Stratford Press

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