Our Fourth Random Act of Kindness

Our Fourth Random Act of Kindness

She doesn’t look more than about 18. Propped up on a non-descript sofa dressed in a loose-fitting top and feeding her daughter (whose pink tummy is protruding out of her tiny leggings) she’s the picture of contentment - an almost-sleeping baby on her lap and a small smile curling around her lips.

This is Kayla, who arrived at Karinya House after being left hospitalized from a traumatic physical assault. Her baby was two weeks old.

Officially, Karinya House is a community-based organisation providing supported accommodation, transitional housing and outreach services to pregnant and parenting women and their families. But what goes on inside this bland brick building in suburban Canberra goes far beyond this neat little description.

A woman called Allison first visited Karinya in 2007 when she was pregnant with her daughter Hayley after living in transient accommodation for a long time. Almost seven years after leaving, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 30. Karinya House contacted her straight away to tell her they were re-opening her file.

“I couldn't believe they were still willing to help me after all that time,” Allison says. “There's a very special bond between Karinya, Hayley and I. It goes beyond just being a client. They are our extended family.”

Since first contacting Karinya House, we’ve spoken to a few different staff members – all of whom have sounded ever-so-slightly harassed beneath their warm greetings, in a sort of Professor McGonagall sort of way. 

And well they might. The staff spend every morning in casework meetings with their 40-odd clients, and every afternoon providing services like counselling, prenatal classes, and budgeting, financial and parenting advice– as well as ferrying their clients to health appointments, helping them move house, and arranging meals or food parcels for them.

That’s a lot of chores.

When we found out about Karinya we were pretty pleased to find a ‘Stuff We Need’ sort of page on their website. When we told our friends at Marimekko that we were keen to tick off a few items on the list, they wanted in. And so together we combined forces to provide some towels, facewashers and the aptly named bunny rugs to Karinya and their clients.

We’re hoping some of them will find their way to Kayla and her pink-tummied baby - who will both probably stay at Karinya for another three months.

“She is currently rebuilding her life, we are assisting her in court proceedings, navigating Centrelink and helping her to find appropriate and affordable housing for her to start her life again with her daughter,” says Karinya House’s Catherine Cooney in her signature friendly-busy way.

“She is a wonderful mother.” 

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Read more about Karinya House