My parents have sacrificed a great amount in their lives for us all to find what we are passionate about and pursue it no matter what it is. My passion is to help people. This passion stemmed from childhood, growing up not being able to have access to luxuries that other families had.
8-year-old me could not comprehend why my parents could not buy me new shoes for school, why I had to wear hand-me-downs or why lunch on some days at school was scarce. At that time of my life, I really felt sad. There was a lot of stigma around not having the flashest stuff, and little glances or whispering if I didn’t have food.
My parents migrated from Tonga when my older sister was born. They had it the toughest, they had to build their own life in a new place, all from scratch. My dad is still the sole provider for my family. He’s a mechanic at a factory in Pakuranga. He’s been working there for my whole life. But I feel like, through our successes, they feel like it was worth it.
Family is everything to me. I was raised alongside a village of 14 people, my Mum, Dad, four sisters, and eight brothers. With a family size equivalent to two netball teams (no subs) and a Rugby Union team, I can only describe them as loud and chaotic!
As I got older, I realised how much of a privilege that was. I wasn’t ‘disadvantaged,’ I was a lucky child. I learned through my family the significance of community, a privilege I think triumphs above most. Having a large support system has influenced my outlook on school, life, and the relationships I have with people. My parents taught me how to be compassionate, thoughtful, and independent. These attributes help me to relate to and understand people inside and outside my life.
That’s why I’m thinking of going into nursing. One thing our country needs to work on is the inequities in healthcare surrounding Māori and Pasifika. It’s basically a clash of cultural and social values. We need to start with the little things, like how to pronounce the patient’s name, or learning some of their language. I want to help with that.
Right now, I’m honoured to be part of KidsCan’s first Youth Council. It’s a chance to help my community and those with similar backgrounds as my own, just as KidsCan has done for me. When I was young, they provided me with morning tea and lunch, new shoes, and rain jackets. Such basic essentials, but I appreciated them like they were luxury items. In my eyes they are. I was more focused, able to work without feeling distracted by cold or hunger. They helped me in a stage of my life where I most needed it.
I am grateful for the support and role models that surround me, and I know that through faith, hard work and sacrifice, I will make the most of every opportunity offered to me.
My journey illustrates the survival instincts instilled by Pasifika women and the diligence to navigate and adapt to environments no matter how foreign. My struggles have built up my resilience. I am stronger because of those things that happened to my family. I wish to use all I have endured to shape my future.