As house mother to around 70 children over the past 14 years, Eufracia Bunao has provided vital unconditional care and love to some of the most vulnerable children in the community.
The Tauranga Homes of Hope house mother recently received an Excellence in Foster Care Award for her commitment to caring for children who have suffered abuse and neglect.
“Being a house mother can be tough sometimes but it is very rewarding to be able to watch their behaviour change,” she says.
“There are so many Kiwi kids out there who just need some support, so knowing that you have made at least a little bit of difference in their lives is amazing.”
Eufracia, also known as Perry, usually cares for children aged three to seven years, however she has cared for babies as well as older children and adores the experience.
She also takes full advantage of professional development and ongoing training opportunities to gain the necessary skills and insight into the effects of early childhood trauma, neglect and maltreatment.
This has enabled her to provide specialised care for each individual child.
“I was given the opportunity to look after a baby recently, and I have never had children of my own, so I was a bit worried to begin with, but now I am so in love with the boy.
Part of the Homes of Hope ethos is to retain relationships with the children after they leave the organisation's care and they are encouraged to return to visit as young adults.
Many continue to do so, and recall childhood memories such as Perry's famous banana cake, which she has been making for many years.
Perry says it is amazing when she meets them again because they have grown up so much.
“I had one girl I looked after come back to Tauranga to work and she visited me and told me that she still remembers my banana cake and so I baked another one for her.”
She says hearing about those special little childhood memories is what it is all about and every child should have the right to be brought up in a caring and supportive home.