The MoWaNa Northern Beaches Safe Space, which operates from The Mind Café at 1346 Pittwater Rd, Narrabeen, on Friday and Saturday evenings, was officially launched on on the weekend (Saturday 18 March.)
MoWaNa President Kerry Gleeson and Vice President and Volunteers Coordinator Mel Kypri spoke at the event, as well as a number of community leaders.
The latter included: Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan; Mackellar MP Dr Sophie Scamps; Pittwater MP Rob Stokes; former Chair of the National Mental Health Commission and suicide prevention advocate, Lucy Brogden; President of Lifeline International and former NSW Liberal Party leader, John Brogden; and 2023 Northern Beaches Citizen of the Year Rachael Leah Jackson.
MoWaNa is a community-led Safe Space for anybody experiencing emotional distress and/or suicidal thoughts, where trained volunteers (with lived experience of crises) offer non-clinical services, from listening to support and guidance.
After Mayor Regan gave the official Welcome, followed by a short performance on the digeridoo by local musician Tom, MoWaNa President Kerry Gleeson addressed the estimated 100 gathered at the launch party.
“Our space is a space for connection,” she said. “It’s a space for suicidal or emotional distress. It’s a space for those who have temporarily lost their way. For us to hold space for them – to wrap them up, to guide them, and get them back on track.
“We do this with having our own lived and living experiences. We’ve been there, and we get it. We just want to hold your hand and let you know that this is only temporary, and we’re here, and we’ve got you, to connect with you for a cuppa, to play a game. Whatever you want we’re here.”
Ms Gleeson paid respect to The Mind Café proprietors, Guy and Anne, for hosting the MoWaNa drop-in service, which operates on Friday and Saturday evenings from 5pm – 9pm.
Ms Gleeson revealed that on their second Saturday of opening (the service began operating on Friday 17 February), the team welcomed four members of the community that arrived in severe distress, who in turn were connected to social supports.
The Tree of Life
MoWaNa, which combines the suburb names Mona Vale, Warriewood and Narrabeen, coincidentally means ‘tree of life’ in Setswana (a Bantu dialect of southern Africa), and is the name the Indigenous peoples of Botswana give to the native Baobab tree.
MoWaNa’s logo features a tree with multi-coloured leaves.
Baobab trees, which grow in 32 African countries and the southern Arabian peninsula, can reach up to 25 metres in height and 15 metres in diameter and live for hundreds of years. A few specimens have been carbon-dated at around 2,000 years old.
Baobabs are both long-lived and life-giving, due to its edible fruits, leaves, sap and roots, which are a vital source of nutrition and food for African peoples, as well other species, including birds, elephants, lizards and monkeys.
Hence their moniker ‘the tree of life’.
MoWaNa contact details
MoWaNa email: email@example.com
MoWaNa Phone: 0478 007 722
MoWaNa Facebook page: www.facebook.com/mowanasafespace
MoWaNa Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/mowanasafespace/
The Mind Café Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheMindCafeAU
The Mind Café address: Shop 3, 1346 Pittwater Rd, Narrabeen, 2101
A GoFundMe page accepts donations for MoWaNa: