Sharing personal stories from the heart

31 October 2017

29-year-old single mother of three, Naoupu Tupuivao

More than 100 young people of South Auckland and their loved ones recently attended the MYSTORY event, held at the Otara Recreational Centre, where children and young people of South Auckland told their stories from the heart.

The event was hosted by SouthSeas Healthcare Trust, in collaboration with the Office of the Children’s Commission, and focused on the importance of young children’s and youth’s voices, with a clear emphasis on personal storytelling.

The event also stands testament to the families comprised of single parents and those who foster and adopt children, along with those who work with youth and social workers.

29-year-old single mother of three, Naoupu Tupuivao related her heart-warming story of the obstacles she faced growing up in South Auckland.

“I was very hesitant to tell my story as it will expose my personal life to the world, but I feel I have to. People need to hear it, and those relating to my story need to speak up.”

“I struggled severely to keep up with life. I became estranged from my family and close friends from fear of shame.”

I’ve made a choice to become a single parent, having found myself in this situation.”

Naoupu says she had no idea what depression was, and she found herself falling, mentally drowning.

“I was in financial distress. The rent went up and I was left with very little money after it was paid, but I made sure I never missed a payment, as it provided a roof over my children’s heads. Then there was the groceries, nappies, clothing, power bill, car payments, petrol, water bill and gas, to all come out of under $100 a week for myself and my kids to survive.”

“We had our car repossessed, then there were constant power outages and my children saw it as the “shadow puppet show nights” where I entertained my children without them knowing I couldn’t afford to pay for the power.”

“I had on average four random anxiety attacks a day, especially when it was time to pack all three kids in the twin pram and walk to the shops once a week with what little money I had.”

“I hated leaving the house. I remember calculating while standing outside the shop with the feeling in the pit in my stomach, what food I could get for $10 that could last my children and I for the next 2-3 days.”

Naoupu says her family tried to help but they had their own families too.

She would get visits from her family from time to time, bringing food and she would put on a front with a smile, pretending she was not starving or struggling financially and feeling absolutely alone.

This changed when her eldest son developed an ear infection and she had to take him to the doctor.

That is when Naoupu was introduced to SouthSeas Healthcare and she was immediately referred to services, including WellChild and Whānau Ora.

Things have slowly improved for Naoupu. She thanked many people on the night, including Auckland City Mission and SouthSeas Healthcare.

“My voice is one of many who are in the same situation as myself,” says Naoupu.

The audience was deeply moved.

“I’m incredibly proud to tell my story in Otara, in front of our families and communities.”

Children’s Commissioner, Judge Andrew Becroft says these stories are important. This is the true reflection of what is going on at ground level. He says we need to listen to these stories.

“Our Office has a large role to play in advocating for the interests and wellbeing of children and young people, and a forum like this enables us to hear what is important to young people, directly from them. We are delighted to be able to co-host this event with SouthSeas Healthcare.”

SouthSeas Healthcare Chief Executive Silao Vaisola-Sefo says the MYSTORY event provides young people with a tool to share their stories.

“This is the important part, so we are able to respond to stories shared by our young people and use their stories to create a movement based on issues facing young people in South Auckland today.”

“We are deeply honoured to have passionate people like Naoupu and others who shared their stories, and this is integral for the development of the MYSTORY framework. We would like to see more of our young people in South Auckland jumping on the MYSTORY wagon and becoming a part of this event,” says Silao.

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