A Maori Muslim woman has taken the plight of the homeless on her shoulders and is the driving force behind a homeless sanctuary she wishes to build.
Lucy Shah Mohamady, 46, has been delivering home-cooked meals to rough sleepers on Queen St for six months with her group Homeless No-More Aotearoa. She's noticed the numbers of homeless increasing and wanted to do something about it.
Now she has banded together with architectural designer Lyzadie Renault to build an eco-friendly, holistic sanctuary for the homeless called the Pipi Sanctuary Pilot Programme. They just need some money and some land.
Mohamady, who became Muslim when she married her Iranian husband, said she identifies with the homeless as she also experienced significant abuse as a child -
something many homeless had also suffered.
"I've been through so many different processes to mend and heal and now I'm able to give back.
"I feel connected to them, I love them. I get happiness and satisfaction from seeing the smiles on their faces. I worry about them in horrible weather.
"Each and every one of us, if we can do something small it will contribute to helping eradicate homelessness."
The Pipi Sanctuary Pilot Programme Mohamady is planning will include 64 self-contained cabins and needs around four hectares of land. The sanctuary would incorporate a holistic programme to provide drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation, budgeting, self-development, careers and counselling with a Te Ao Māori (the Māori world) focus.
The sanctuary would use a three-step process for rehabilitation, Mohamady explained. Initially the person would be assessed by a team of specialists to identify their issues and have a tailored programme to wellness created for them.
The second step includes a focus on self-development and career coaching. The third step is to set up a collective tourism enterprise which will create a platform for the clients to sell their crafts if they wished.
Mohamady believed teaching te reo and using tikanga was important as most rough sleepers were Māori.
"We will help our clients to find their passion so they can identify what their purpose is. We will help them to break down their past and replace it with good role models, tools needed to survive in this society and implement traditional Māori methods.
"This sanctuary is a doctor, a teacher and it is where they can grow and shine."
Mohamady is a career volunteer and helps the Islamic Centre and migrant refugees as well as the homeless. She fits this in between caring for her six children and six grandchildren.
Mohamady planned to get financial support through their Givealittle page, collaborating with Maori organisations and working with any generous donors.