One Story of Many

From broken and hiding, now free to be herself

When I finished [Te Whakaora’s] programme and looked back at my life, I saw ugly Annie. I’m not that ugly person anymore and when people see me they don’t even recognize me!

When we first met Annie her face was well hidden under a hoodie. She didn't lift her head and barely spoke a word. Referred by her doctor from Te Manu Aute Whare Oranga, she reluctantly said, "I've tried working with other agencies and it hasn't helped. You probably won't be any different." Cliffy began talking about rejection and something changed in her demeanour. Tears rolled down her face and she opened up – just a little – about some of the deep emotional pain she was carrying.

Annie left Cliffy's office with a flicker of hope in her eyes and a commitment to attend our Emotional Healing course the following week. But after completing our Emotional Healing course with her partner Rangi, she disappeared. We couldn't reach her or Rangi and were concerned about their wellbeing without our usual follow-up supports in place.

Six weeks later we were amazed when Annie burst into Cliffy's office with a radiant smile, arms waving in animation. "I'm all good now, I'm healed! I don't need help anymore!" she said. Annie and her partner had moved to another city to get away from negative influences in Manuewa, and she had taken a three hour bus trip from her new home, just to see us that day to say thanks.

Annie explained that immediately following the course she began restoring broken relationships with her and her partner's whanau. After years of living on the benefit, Rangi now has a job and they've settled into a new home. We all laughed when she said they are the quietest family on the street. "Yeah," she said, "When we hear the neighbours shouting and arguing and carrying on I say to Rangi, 'That used to be us babe!'". She told us, "When I finished the programme and looked back at my life, I saw ugly Annie. I'm not that ugly person anymore and when people see me they don't even recognize me!"

Her next priority is restoring the relationship with her teenage daughter, to walk alongside her so she doesn't have to go through the same trials and suffering that Annie did. And folllowing that, she wants to find full-time employment. What an encouragement to our Te Whakaora team!

Annie's transformation has encouraged other members of her whanau to seek Te Whakaora's help. Annie said, "I was over at my Aunties and I was like man yous are all f***ed up!! Yous need to go see these people [at Te Whakaora]. If they can do it for me they can do it for yous... like, look at me! Did you guys ever think I could be the way I am now?"