Nitivenbetep; A Powerful Story of Overcoming Separation Anxiety for a Little Girl

My Granny Lehi had a routine for sundays when I was at Primary School. She always had a story to tell before my bed time on sunday evenings. It was called Nitivenbetep. It was set on Nembangahu. Our tribe. Our land. That was the best treat on reflection. It was very settling. It was life saving in a different way. IMG_0513

Those who knew me during my early years of school as a little girl remembered the little girl who always cried. I was called “the devils child” while I was at Primary School by my distant cousins. I never knew why. Maybe I was the ugliest child in the class? Perhaps being the smartest child in the class who could spell “earthquake” as no one else could? Maybe I was just the petite child in class that I could easily be called “tetei lapus” meaning “the devils child?” in the Ninde langauge. Or perhaps it was because I was a different village girl who was trying so hard to be accepted into another village where my Granny lived. I felt very ‘split up’ being from another village. But nevertheless, I accepted that norm as I had to gel into a different village to be able to hang out with the cool boys and girls. I accepted being called by that name. My distant cousins all called me by that name. I was never called Leina. We would go hunting for prawns in the rivers. Or go fishing along the coast. Or go gathering fruits and firewood in the plantations. Or fry fish together at their house. For at least three years, I was bullied. Something I was never aware of. Psychologically, it was damaging.

I suffered from very bad separation anxiety. My father took me away to go to school in another village. Between the ages of 8 years to eleven years old, I had to live with my aunt Janice and Granny for school. My father believed I would do better going to the District School where the Australian Missionaries were based. It was where my grandfather, the late Elder Isno Betep was serving to the First Missionaries who arrived in South West Bay, Malekula, Vanuatu. I never met my grandfather. He died long before I was born. These days I only got to meet him through the photographs the Australian Missionary Mr Ian Taylor saved for me in Brisbane, Australia. I cherished those photographs so much as they are my only surviving memories of envisioning who my grandfather really was. He was a hardworker. He was the Missionary’s right hand many moons ago. IMG_0953

The separation anxiety was almost debilitating. Pschologically, I sobbed uncontrollably at times. The transition was so tough. It made me very sick. I remembered one time, my father came to the school where I was. He tried getting away from me after he had helped me with my maths problems but he wasn’t successful. I sobbed so hard that I had a violent episode of extreme vomitting. It was tough being an eight year old girl then. These days, I wished there was better parenting to teach young parents to deal better with separation anxiety. Separation

Fridays are my favourite days as I would look forward to getting home to see my parents. Excitment builds and by lunch time, we would be singing songs in our classrooms for the weekend. School closes at lunch time and for those of us who have parents out of the area, we would start walking home after our lunch meal. It would take us an hour. IMG_0130

We got used to the long and hot walks home. We used to run too. We would time ourselves jumping through the large boulders safely, and without getting wet from the large waterfall spraying mist at Lamelkise.

We taught ourselves how to husk coconuts so we had sweet drinks to maintain our blood sugars. We learned about the safer leaves instead of the toxic posionous ones to curve them into little cups to serve water from the running streams along the beachside to quench our thirst. We climbed fruit trees to get fruits to eat along the way home. We would weave little balls out from coconut leaves so we could kick them along the beach or have a wee game of volley. We would cut out our arrows for games and carry them when we got back into the village. Sometimes we would change our routes home and try out a new route that would take us through the jungles instead. This is to ensure we can keep safe from the heat of the scorching sun. We used swam a lot along the beautiful sandy beaches home. IMG_0328

We would look out for each other when one got stung by a poisonous jelly fish or stood accidently on a sea urchin. Sometimes, we would catch octopuses to take home for our friday evening meals. We knew how to entertain ourselves. We celebrated with bonfires and games when we reached home safely on fridays. The bonfires would create little firecrackers so we would heat up little stones and they became our fireworks across the ocean in the evenings. The whole village would know that we were home safely as they would saw each of us the students heading down to the rivers or the sea for swims. It was such a wonderful time in the eighties. There was also no phone technology. Life was very different then.

Sundays are particularly hard for me after spending the weekend with my parents. My mother always cooked a meal for me and would package it up in my favourite creamy cast iron pot. I would sob so hard come 3pm. It would take an hour walk along the beach, climbing through the big rocks with my pack bag along with the other school children. We would pass through other villages on the way. I would quitely sob behind the big kids through these villages too. It was tough. At times, when we got so tired of climbing the hills, we would try and swim across the big rocks when the high tides are in. Its about taking the short cuts so we don’t have to climb hills through the dark. Little girls like me would swim across in their undies. I would always take my little dress off to swim across the large boulders. Often I was terrified of seeing the large seaweeds on the ocean floor waving as I swam across with my bag on my head. Sometimes, I would piggyback onto a larger girl. Other times, I would give my bag to another bigger boy who could carry it for me so I can swim across. I would always feel so sick arriving at my aunt Janice and my grandmother. I suffered from separation anxiety too much.

One sunday evening, I ran away from my aunt Janice and grandmother. I missed my parents too much that I made it all the way back to my parents. By the time I got home, I was terrified of the dark. I was sobbing quietly in the dark. My father found me sobbing outside our house.

Through my tears, I begged him not to let me go back to school! I especially did not want to go and live with my aunt Janice and Granny. I missed my mama and papa too much. I never wanted to go anywhere. Not ever. I pleaded my case to stay home and be a village girl. Life was better that way being a village girl.

My father did not listen (These days I am grateful for his perserverance). He wanted me to go to school. The next day he returned me to aunt Janice and Granny. I have never forgiven him since!IMG_0322

My Granny was still my best friend on sundays. She would listen to Radio Vanuatu in the mornings for a childrens story on the segment.  Then she would settle me in the evenings with those entertaining, lessons to be learnt stories. I remembered lying across from her in my little mosquito dome and she would tell me stories to help me settle.

But my favourite story still rings out loud-Nitivenbetep. It will be a story that will be ingrained in me forever. It is my tribal story. It has become so real to me. It has really impacted on how I am today. It is one story that I will never forget. Not Ever. My Granny saved me. IMG_0461

It has truly made me overcome my separation anxiety during my primary school years as a little girl.

It nurtured my emotional well being. It comforted me during some very tough years being away from my parents.

It was healing. It was connecting. It was meaningful. It was legendary. It was distracting.

It was able to make me believe in another story, just like Mr Pip in Llyod Jones famous book set in Bougainville.

It was positively changing. My imagination roared into life.

One day, I hope to capture it by writing it into a little childrens book.

It would be a legacy. IMG_0197

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A Sacred Turangawaewae called Lumete, Denemus; My Tropical Paradise

IMG_0458The water sparkles. It is so calm. It is glassy. It is such a deep blue colour. There is hardly a breath of wind. There are no flying fishes just yet. The dolphins are nearby. A school of fish swam past on a typical tropical summers day. The place I call home is Lumete, a little paradise nestled along the coast of South West Bay, Malekula, Vanuatu. This is my true turangawaewae. IMG_0444The next six years of my life will be spent in Dunedin-an absolutely stunning slice of New Zealand. I have been secretly falling in love with a surburb there called Roslyn. Maybe it is because I will have a special historical connection for the next big life project-a Writing Contribution Towards Vanuatu’s Childrens Books for the South Pacific World War II Museum! You can check out this incredible project here where you can contribute too: https://southpacificwwiimuseum.com/DunedinIn 2019, I will be embarking on another completely chapter of my life that will really challenge me in many ways. I will be studying at the University of Otago in Dunedin specialising in Health Sciences (I have a couple of Postgraduate Qualifications in Health Sciences from 2007). I am excited by the challenge and I am looking forward to becoming a student again. Though weighing it all up, on reflection I have concluded that losing my full time income will be my biggest challenge of all. With it comes the massive reduction in my networking skills as I give my resignations to all the community organisations I have been heavily involved with through the years. But on a positive note, I look forward to creating a completely new set of networking community. A wonderful strength to have. Medical SchoolWellington, New Zealand the Coolest Little Capital in the World has been my home for 18 years! I have lived and worked here for nearly 16 years. I will miss it greatly as I will transition. I have made Wellington home (in fact it is Porirua City) and really settled here; made lifelong friends who became my family and supporters and susbstantially grounded myself in the community work and contributed where I can. Beehive But I’ve been greatly fascinated with New York, dreamed about Paris and Geneva, wined and dined in Port Vila, loved and explored Melbourne and Noosa, and lusted after London and Shanghai. A huge part of me craves to travel the world. After a couple of humanitarian missions with the New Zealand Red Cross, I’ve got the travel bug. I must admit I’ve come home and all I wanted to do was get up and go again. There is no wrong in that. I felt like I have set myself financially well to do that; to travel the world, and delve into the eat, pray, love!IMG_1397But despite all, I have a special place in my heart. A sacred space. A tribal land. A turangawaewae. IMG_0143A sacred turangawaewae where I grew up as a little girl. My playtime was spent outdoors here. A little international tropical paradise. An untouched paradise. IMG_0248This is a very special place where special memories were formed and nurtured. A place where I learnt to work hard to garden and produced on the land.IMG_0492A place where my ancestors gathered and built their lives. They fished. They collected shellfish. They hunted. I did the same many decades later. They performed their traditional dances here with all their sacred rituals.  This sacred place became my tribal land called Denemus. IMG_1444Lumete became a place where my family settled. They built their nest. My late first baby nephew was buried close to the beach. My mother Ruby and I shared tears as we spoke about the lack of basic obstetric and medical care in our area. Paul Race Isno died at 5 months prematurely as my sister struggled with prenatal bleeding; a very dangerous condition many pregnant women had to endure in very remote rural areas of the world. IMG_0267I learned how to weave coconut and pandanus mats and baskets on the beach. We learned basic traditional herbal medicine. We learned to look after ourselves on the reefs. We learned how to swim. IMG_1512We sang tribal songs, our waiatas at sunsets and listened to our famous family story of “Nitivenbetep.” IMG_0431We celebrated with bonfires and roasted sweet bananas instead of marshmellows on the beach. We skipped and hopped with banana ropes. We slid down hill slopes in large coconut husks. We climbed trees and harvested fruits. IMG_0399We sliced papayes to feed the turtles in the shallow the sea waters. We collected the thousands of seashells on the sea shore and made them dance. We soaked special young trees in the sea water for weeks to create our grass skirts for our traditional dances. IMG_1447Peter, my Father worked hard on the land. He planted a lot of coconut species. He faced a lot of criticism from his decisions as he took over from my grandfather who had passed.  He believed in crop farming instead of livestock farming. He transformed 6 hectares of land from livestock into a coconut and cocoa plantation. In between this plantation, he grew vanilla beans and coffee beans. Ruby, my Mother worked tirelessly with him planting a lot of legumes especially beans to help fertilise the soil. The Vanuatu Government had not invested productively in agriculture in the early eighties so Peter and Ruby found relief in subsistence farming. They cultivated the land. In 1994, the first fruit of a coconut was harvested. Peter fed his critics (one of my distant grandmothers) with his harvest. There was a lot tears and apologies from her as she realised the outcome of the decision. To this day, this six hectares of fertile land has consistently produced income and food for our family. Peter ensured that our extended families and relatives benefited from his projects too. IMG_0445Peter became so environmentally protective too. He invested in his self education about marine life. He invested his time and skills into protecting the ocean and the reefs. He was involved with breeding sea cucumbers. He went fishing. He dived around the reefs to grow new coral reefs on the edge of them. He applied the Namele leaves as a taboo sign on the reefs to keep the locals away so the marine life could recover. IMG_1490The New Year of 2017 was all about family time. It was significant. The Denemus tribe had never been reunited at a single family meeting. The Denemus family came together on our tribal land, lumete to repair our relationships and to plan our future businesses together. We had so many broken relationships. We had so many fractured bonds. We neglected our land. We failed to honour our ancestors. We failed to move back onto the land and nurture the place. We left everything to my father Peter to develop the land by himself; something I struggled to understand still. An international slice of 6 hectares with exceptional water views and greenery was under developed. Perhaps it’s the best thing for now? I found myself apologising to my cousins. They had held grudges against me for so many years. I apologised to my eldest Aunt Janice-something I never understood too but it was what my cousins wanted. It was the right thing to do by them.  It was very emotional. I was tearful. IMG_0406But my father honoured me and for the work I had done internationally. His family did the same. I felt honoured. It was huge. IMG_1513

But the biggest win that day was my introduction of the transformation of part of our Lumete land. There is some land being allocated to me to build a potential international childrens museum.

In front of the family, I was to head that project. This was a given order and honour by my father Peter, the Head Chief of our Tribe and Land. He believed in my project proposal. He supported it fully. He backed it. He saw the generational benefits of it. He saw a deeper insight to it. He saw the largest potential for development and understood the benefit for the whole family and the Bay. He wanted us to dream and plan ahead. He wanted us all to work together. I had to be accountable to the land. I had to respect the tribe and the customary chief. Without hesitation, I agreed wholeheartedly. IMG_0316The girl who is building a museum has a long term project to complete. These are her life goals. Her dream. A significant legacy. Lumete is her turangawaewae. Denemus remains her turangawaewae.

A South Pacific Tropical Paradise awaits for goals to be fulfilled. IMG_0260

10 Lifelong Lessons Learnt From Legally Settling An International Turangawaewae

DSCN2237In his book “A Nurse on the Edge of the Desert” New Zealand Nurse Andrew Cameron, the winner of the coveted Florence Nightingale Medal reminded me of Theodore Roosevelt’s statement,

Nothing in this world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty. I have never envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well…Life is not easy, and least of all is it easy for either the man or the nation that aspires to great deeds. It is always better to be an original than an imitation.”

This real estate settlement was no doubt one of the most challenging and corrupted with common practices of nepotism I have ever come across in my being an apprentice Real Estate Investor. I have reflected on this piece of life changing decision and there are huge lessons to be learnt from this settlement. I felt I had made some frustrating decisions that were still unsatisfying. But out of these mistakes and frustrations came lessons of growth, development, integrity and the WILL to keep going with determination despite the circumstances.

One: Location, Location, and Location ResearchDSCN2151

Throughout my settlement of real estate, I’ve learnt that location is so important. It is always an art of profit. So always research it first. Always “avoid that holiday syndrome” where you ponder and dream about buying a property in a lovely, picturesque little village.

Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu provided me with a “Blue Chip Location.” Blue chip locations are those with water views (be they river, coast or harbour or city views for example). Espiritu Santo had a lot of potential attraction for me (in comparison to Port Vila with less infrastructure) for me. It is the largest island in Vanuatu with an International Airport. It hosts the largest South Pacific International Wharf as well as the South Pacific World War II museum currently under construction. It boasts one of the best diving spots in the world with the wreck of SS President Coolidge according to the British Times! What’s not to like about these locations called Champagne Beach, Million Dollar Point, Blue Holes and jaw-dropping beaches on a tropical island paradise? A tropical paradise steeped in natural beauty, history and culture. Weigh up the risks too. Is there a potentially large volcano brewing underwater with all that large magnitude of earthquakes? Thats all part of buying real estate!

Two: Settle in PersonCelebrations Vegas

Unless you deal with a competent and experienced real estate agent, Never Ever Settle without being there! It took me 10 years to eventually pay off the mortgage. Over the years, I didn’t have regular payments. As I looked over the reciepts in retrospect, I only made one huge lumpsum to the mortgage. I made no more over the years until June 2017. My family helped with slowly depositing small amounts through the years to ensure there was some mortgage activity. It helped me substantially.

But if there was a bigger lesson I had learnt from this exercise, it was about resettling the estate in person; a face to face meeting and discussions, a fronting of real conversations about the relevant issues affecting the estate, avoiding third knowledge, and more importantly a human presence that is impactful to the other parties in the legal negotiations. Settling an International Real Estate on a tropical island paradise in person is more serious and more calming.

Three: Family SupportRuby

Through the years while I was away from Vanuatu and living abroad in New Zealand, my family support was never-ending. My father Peter stuck by me and reminded me of how much it is important to secure some land for the future and earn income from it. He spent a lot of time with his travelling expenses as well as communication expenses to negotiate on my behalf. He would always ring me to brief me through the updates and what he had done so I am versed with the estate.

On reflection, it was the most expensive support I had from my father. He would know when the local Luganville Council was installing electricity, water and roading constructions to the nearby areas so he would make sure to pay for my due fees so my estate does not miss out on these important infrastructures. My mothers sister Helen has been incredibly supportive in looking after my property while I continue to live abroad. Ruby my mother continues to be my main supporter in writing me letters through the post. I have never forgotten that family support as it has been sustainably crucial to securing my assets.

Four: Local Real Estate NetworksReal Estate

Prior to heading to Vanuatu to settling the real estate in person, I made sure that I connected with the local real estate. The power of networking is absolutely crucial and beneficial in terms of relationships. It is important to develop, maintain and acknowledge the support of networks.

In my case the local real estate-The First National Real Estate (www.firstnationalsanto.com) was my local support network. Warren Moore, a very experienced real estate professional (a true Kiwi-New Zealander by heart) with a rich background in farming, business and real estate has been a brief backbone support for me in Luganville, Santo. Though brief, the mentorship I gained from him over a couple of days has been rewarding, rich and valuable and truly money-saving! If you ever find yourself longing to settle on a real estate in Vanuatu with the unspoilt beaches and lagoons and experiencing that beauty and idyllic lifestyle, Mr Moore is your go-to-guy with an extensive local knowledge. He will not disappoint. I highly recommend him. A bottle of red wine as an acknowledgment always goes a long way too as a thank you.

Five: A Sales and Purchase AgreementLegal Papers.jpg

This should be the first document that you should have in your hot hands when you enter a contractual agreement to settling a real estate. No questions asked. This document should list all the conditions between the Vendor and the Purchaser. I never had this document when I first made a deposit into buying this real estate in 2007. It should have your signature and dated for the terms and conditions of this contract. It was rotten bananas for me!

Always check the scheme plan, the survey plan, the lease documents, the title registration and the transfer of title document. I never had any of these important documents. It was so frustrating. It is still frustrating. I don’t have any of these paperworks. Except my Sales and Purchase Agreement. It wasn’t enough. It is not legal. I have completed my mortgage and I have nothing to prove I own that property. Not even a title. Nothing as yet. A big lesson learnt. Bananas went bad! But I have got the Vendors word that “they will not boot me out of my property because I have completed my mortgage payments.”

Six: Knowledge-Sharing

Knowledge sharing

Do not be afraid to share what you have learnt. The more you talk about concerns and pressing issues, the more you will learn. It will feel lighter trust me. There are far more complex issues that I have dealt with in comparison in terms of humanity and the missions I have served on.

I was able to sit my family down and talked about the Vendor’s failures, the corruptions, the paperwork, and their incompetencies of handling legal proceedings. The biggest failure is lack of communications from them. The Vendors were a local Vanuatu Organisation highly involved with subdivisions and real estate. I was able to share with them what I have learnt from my overseas real estate settlements. This included the processes I went through. My brief mentorship from Mr Moore was valuable too and I was able to share with them what I had learnt including diagrams of  the scheme plans, the survey plans, the lease documents, the title, and the transfer of title documents. They have provided feedback that they know a lot more now that I have taken time to explain to them what these real estate contracts and paperwork meant. They have a better understanding about their property too. But more importantly, that knowledge-sharing created a closer bond for us all and a clearer legacy.

Seven: Active Networking

Picton Castle

I’ve never stopped meeting new people. Its just part of life! It is about living the good life. It is about connecting and reaching out to others. Business thrives on networking. I’ve learnt that. While I was in Luganville, Espiritu Santo I was able to meet and share a few stories and drinks with the famous Barque Picton Castle Crew. Picton Castle sailed into the Espiritu Harbour for at least a few days. It was great learning about the ship (www.picton-castle.com/) as I was invited to go on a tour (I missed the opportunity) and even got a job offer of nannying if I considered it. But the meeting taught me lessons; lessons about creating lifelong friendships and bonds. I was honoured to have met Tomas, the Ships Spanish Medical Officer who I was able to spend a day with as we spoke a lot about Medical School and the challenges it came with. I was able to thank him for serving the people of Malekula in Banan Bay-it was heartfelt and I was very grateful to him!

I was also very honoured to have visited an important project in the history of Espiritu Santo-the incredible South Pacific World War II Museum (powered by the support of New Zealand’s VSA and other local and International Organisations) that is currently being built to reflect the vast history that the war has had on this tiny nation. The importance of capturing these histories and preserving it for our future generations is so worthwhile. I’ve made it my mission to try and support this international project as much as I could from afar. In addition I am very conscious of my long-term cause-and-effects of my own actions towards this.

Eight: Plan AheadA Bach

I have successfully secured a real estate property which is 2,500 square metres in size. That is huge. However, financially I am unable to build on it just yet. I couldn’t. My finances are not adequate. The next 6 years I will lose my capacity of earning a full time salary. My initial thoughts of wanting this asset to become an income producing one fell short. It was about leasing it to an investor over a 10-15 year period while I head back into University but that plan didn’t hatch.

I had to come up with another Plan B. That plan is for my father Peter to build a two bedroom cottage/bach on the land as an income-producing asset for rental for the next few years while I am at University. The property will be able to provide a subsistence gardening for a family. Peter has taken his research into more details; he has planted 100 sandalwood tree seedlings for oil harvesting in the next 15 years. I couldn’t blame his long term investments and thinking, but more importantly planning ahead.

Nine: Celebrate Small WinsReal Celebrations

My family met me half way after I came home from a Humanitarian Mission with the NZ Red Cross. They met me on Espiritu Santo. We were able to have some family time for two weeks before I said goodbye again. But those family times were so important, memorable and supportive. We genuinely wanted to connect, build rapport and repair our broken family relationships. We celebrated with food and local drinks. We celebrated with reminiscing about the tribal stories and singing songs. We celebrated our culture and our children. We celebrated our small wins. We celebrated our togetherness. Family time was a priority.

As the eldest daughter of the family, I have always had pressure from my own father to perform. That pressure was often turned into sobbing sessions where I had ended multiple conversations with my father for my own mental health. He was quick to point out my failures as a working daughter abroad and the neglect he percieves from not getting what he wants; something my mother Ruby completely disagrees with. But such is life. I have always prioritised my health and my finances and what is important in life for me-being financially independent! This international real estate settlement became a notable milestone. My father gracefully thanked me for completing the mortgage and for having an asset. That was powerful!

Ten: Have Humility 

Humility is thinking less about yourself; it is NOT about thinking less of yourself. But in short, stay humble. Practice humility. It will take you a very long way! My good friends have always reminded me of this valuable trait. It is so worthwhile.

Humility listens. Humilty tests. Humility admits. If there is any important advice I would dwell on these days, it is all about humility. Its an admirable act of grace, generosity and gumpness. Humbleness comes with selflessness. I have learnt that. Humility

As I finish off this blog, let me remind you that it is ok to make mistakes. I have learnt a lot. I made a lot of mistakes. I tried to avoid the costly mistakes. It’s about taking what we call “calculated risks.” I needed a place to call “my turangawaewae”-It will be my home while I am still living abroad; Espiritu Santo on a tropical island in the South Pacific.

The Day I Settled My Third Real Estate Property on Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu

father-and-daughter-silhouette

There is a saying that goes, “Behind every successful man is a powerful woman.” I leaned heavily on my father who is my mentor, my role model and my entrepreneurial buddy. Anuradha Das Mathur, a wildly successful Indian Woman entrepreneur who published her 2018 article on “How Humanity Can Help You Succeed in the New Corporate World” emphasized,

“Behind every successful daughter is a father who always stood by her side, let her follow dreams and gave her wings to fly” 

but more importantly 

“Behind every successful girl, there is an open minded father who trusted his daughter….and not the society”

He has taught me a lot and I honour and credit him for his wisdom. I would not have achieved the success I have, if not for my father Peter. Ruby, my mother continues to be and is heavily a part of this huge support. I settled a 1.2 million vatu 2,500 square metres of green land and space on the island of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. The day was the 8th of June 2017. On the 20th October 2018 when I had my official paperwork for the real estate property, the Picton Castle sailed into the beautiful Espiritu Santo harbour. This was an international settlement!

Picton Castle

I remembered sobbing vividly so hard one tropical evening with my mother Ruby and her sister Helen in their very smokey open traditional bbq’ed kitchen-style whare.

Sobbing girl

I have just recently returned from Vanuatu on a 2 weeks holiday with my family after my second humanitarian mission with the NZ Red Cross overseas. I have never had to have this conversation before with my mother. Ruby had always seen me as a “fiercely independent young woman” who did not need their help. For the first time, she openly admitted that at times, she “forgot she had a daughter overseas” and instead focused on her youngest daughter in Port Vila. Fair call. But she did emphasized that there was not a single time she ever stopped thinking about me being so far away. I told my mama, her letter writing and the envelopes that arrived in my letter box with a Vanuatu Stamp on it was my only emotional support that kept me going. She loved me so much that way and I acknowledged that. It brought so much joy reading her letters. The two of us have maintained our traditional letter writing despite the advancement of technology. She does not have a mobile phone either so that helped her pen letters instead.

Sobs

The smokey fire combined with my salty tears as I sobbed uncontrollably really made my mother very emotional too. I struggled to even openly talk about my sturggles as a young single woman overseas with no family. That was the hardest. Ruby had tears. Helen had tears. They sympathised and empathised. They both listened as I attempted through my tears to tell them-“I struggled through the years overseas on my own.” It was difficult at times but I just managed. I don’t know quite know how I had managed to maintain my emotional stamina through some very challenging times there, without all of you. I don’t know how I managed to buy two real estate properties overseas on my own without maintaining a full time job (I was only working 4 days a week for at least 8 years). This is the third real estate property that I have completed it’s payments. I have no debts on this property and it felt good. But it has taken me ten years to finally settle this asset! I have no regrets. I have an asset on a tropical island in the South Pacific. A heavenly slice of this piece of Paradise with so much more to offer the world with it’s own culture and heritage, its regeneration and rejuvenation after all the natural disasters.

East Santo

The next chapter of life and adventures that await has made me do a lot of reflections again. As I proceeded to tell my mother about how difficult it will be being a full time student with no income from 2019, she reassured me that “it will be alright, things will work out and you will make the right choices to help you follow through. We will organise some spiritual pastoral care.” I knew I was lacking that spiritual care for a number of years for my own well being.

Pastoral CARE

How on earth does Ruby know? She has never lived in a foreign country to pay for everything. She has always worked freely to survive on the land. Its free. I don’t have any of those. My choices are a wee bit more complicated than that. I have to pay for real estate insurances, council rates, property manager fees, extra costly repairs, car repairs and insurances and heaven knows what natural disasters are on their way. She heard me. She listened. She empathised. I respected her opinion. I respected her mana. I respected her life. I love her. Quietly, I knew she was still very honoured and proud of a daughter so far away.

The biggest lessons I came away with was;

A bird has two wings to fly. You will need a second wing. You will need that second pair. You have had a lot to deal with. You have been so busy. That second wing will be so important to help you fly better.

That is true!

Beautiful wings

Will I ever find that second pair of wings soon? I’ll find out in the next three years I suppose! For now building and crafting a career, efficiently maintaining and driving a business, and serving and contributing to humanity stays as priorities.

 

An End of An Era

RN-badge

As I looked through my goals and reflected on nearly 16 years of a Nursing Career in New Zealand-I was emotional. I have mixed emotions for many reasons. On the 26th July 2018-I hunged up my Nursing Cap. Through the years, I have served as an Oncology/Haematology Nurse, a Rehabilitation Nurse, an Endoscopy Nurse and an Operating Theatre Nurse. But one particular aspect of nursing which has changed me personally was being a Palliative Nurse. I worked for a Nursing Agency over the weekends and I would nurse the dying in their last days. It was humbling. Yes, I have lost a few patients who would pass on me during my night shifts in their own homes but that never detered me from Nursing. That respect on a dead bed, to be honoured and treated with dignity (no matter who you are), to be painfree, and to pass peacefully for the dying really captured me and changed my perspective on caring. I will never stop caring.

Nursing has been a career that has taught me overwhelmingly so much. I am forever grateful for it as it had far accelerated my personal and professional growth and development. Today the 27th July 2018, I have officially resigned from my current employer! There is a new career pathway ahead. I don’t know what it will be yet but I know through the years, I have worked hard and sacrificed a lot to build myself up. I had one goal in mind too- to be a better and purposeful citizen and community worker making a difference.

There were no regrets as I broke and rose through my Nursing career. I have maintained my dignity through the harsh challenges and the nasty bullying culture of Nursing. That statement of “Nurses eat their Youngs” was loud and clear when I was a student nurse. I clearly remembered two Registered Nurses doing “paper scissors rock” on a busy Wellington Medical Ward to see who could take me as a student nurse. It was so debilitating, humliating and stigmatising! One that I’ll never, ever forget. It will go down into my autobiography book when I eventually publish it. I made a self vow that I will never, ever treat a nursing student in my care to that extreme. Ever.

The bullying culture was not restricted to Nursing alone. Being an Operating Theatre Nurse had a culture on it’s own too. Through the years, being the Surgeons Right Hand came with it’s own challenges and bullying. Yes Surgeons are Gods as the perception goes. The pressures are huge. Often they “tear you into pieces, throw instruments on the floor and through walls, humiliate you in front of everybody, throw you out of their theatre, blame you for loosing a screw or suture, demand that piece of instrument now and trample on your confidence so you are made to feel so low like an ant.” I have learnt to be patient. It is a virtue. The valuable traits of being taught as a human from those who have come into my life and made a significant difference to my personal and professional growth summarises who I remain to be: Recover. Recompose. Regroup. Reflect. Rebuild. Revitalise. Reinvent. Rise. And pay it forward on the global stage.”

Humanitarian Mother Teresa

But one thing will not deny me.  My Nursing Goal to become a “frontline nurse” and serve internationally. Florence Nightingales (1820-1910) legacy of providing basic clean environment and fresh air, attending to every wounds, and making sure that every soldier recieved kind, compassionate and humane care is installed in me. I am reminded by Mother Teresa’s powerful quote of “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” We can make a lot of difference in teaching too I believe and Nursing is one profession that teaches a lot. It is the same in the Medical profession too. I know for sure that part of my serving abroad will be teaching others what I have learnt and was skilled to do here in New Zealand. War Nurses

The image of me in a uniform serving on the frontlines and attending to the wounded soldiers in the wars serves as a general reminder of how much I wanted to achieve that goal. Secretly, it is on my vision board; it is written down as my goal; it is in my vision; it is bestowed in my heart; and it will always part of my journalling. The powerful image of the “Civil War Nurse” by Richard F. Welch remained ingrained in me. I’ve always admired and had huge respect for these loyal women of the civil war who became known as the “Battlefield Angels.” They were unsung heroes who worked so hard. I want to honour those nurses by carrying on that mission work too abroad.

Civil War

Last night as a small group of health professionals came together to celebrate the work that I have done and to wish me well for the tough adventures ahead-it dawned on me. The honour and the respect that they showed me was huge. Doctors and Nurses. Two respectable professions. A Gynaecologist/Obstetrician hugged me and bade me farewell with the statement of “If you find yourself stuck anywhere in the world or in any extreme circumstances no matter what time it is, call me-I will be waiting on the other line and I will talk.” A well respected General Surgeon gave me a generous token and wrote a very powerful personal card-it meant so much to me! An Anaesthetist hugged me and reminded me that if I ever find myself stuck in any difficult circumstances abroad on my humanitarian missions to ring so he can get a group of them to help get me into safety. He did entertained us with the thought of reminding me of not ruling out the possibility of marrying a Swiss Doctor! War Nurse

The Irish translation of “slan go foill agus go néiri on bothan leat” which translates to “goodbye and goodluck, may the road rise to meet you” made me so emotional as I recieved hugs and thank you from my Manager! A friendship necklace from a young vibrant Nurse that had so much story of love, struggles and challenges, tough dark times, recovery and success behind it all became a powerful pounamu taonga moment for me as I promised pay it forward with that friendship circle of love.  A package of Self-Care delivered with love from the Vascular Surgeons and their team was honourable and noble. This self care is in fact the critical of all as preparations intensify. The messages of support, acknowledgements and love from those I have worked closely with reminded me of how critical and important a team has become to me. They are my family. It was a safe haven. While hugs do not come freely and are not everyone’s personality-I had more hugs from work colleagues, both Doctors and Nurses than any others would and that meant a lot. That was respect on another level. I’ve embraced those moments. It reminded me of my place and more importantly, love. Universal love that must be shared.

It may be an end of an era in New Zealand but the journey is far from ending. It is just starting. This international team has become my family-a family that has been more caring, supportive and respectful. They have given me their honourable blessings for me to go forward globally and dutifully serve with my heart. Bangladesh #1

A United Nations (UN) Opportunity-A 2018 Defining Career Moment!

UN Logo

The phone call that probably and potentially will change and impact my life and career pathway! That UN phone call from the President of the Board of UN Women National Committee Aotearoa, New Zealand on the 18th July 2018 asking me if I could consider a role on the New Zealand Board with mentorship included. Further to that, to look at being elected onto the Board in the upcoming elections! I said Yes to the opportunity without hesitation!

Oh what a pleasant surprise! That was huge! That was unexpected. I was distracted. It was like the stars had aligned. It made my heart beat faster I swear. I was clamy and glowing literally. Never had I even considered a career opportunity and pathway with the UN. But I am embracing the opportunity and the challenge. I thought serving as a humanitarian in the role of an Internationbal Health Delegate with the New Zealand Red Cross was huge for me, yet this was even larger contributing on a voluntary role for the UN. What capacity would I be able to contribute to the Board I wondered? I revisited my CV and my business card-yes I can contribute with my international humanitarian experience with serving and advocating for the women and the children. Yes of course I’ll represent our Pacific Women’s voice on the NZ Board. My Business card reads: NZ Registered Comprehensive Nurse/Humanitarian/Independent Marriage Celebrant/Writer/Community Volunteer/Vanuatu Linguistics Consultant/Real Estate Investor/Entrepreneur with a tagline of “transforming Pasifika and Refugee Women Futures!”

I was very aware of the role of the UN in New Zealand, it’s powerful global intergovernmental status and it’s 17 global sustainable/developmental goals. It’s objectives included maintaining international peace and security, promoting human rights, fostering social and economic development, protecting the environment and providing humanitarian aid during famines, natural disasters and armed conflict. UN Sustainable Goals

I had resigned from my Nursing position as a Senior Staff Nurse at a private Wellington Hospital and at the end of July 2018 will see the end of my 16 years Nursing Career and Service in New Zealand. I am taking that leap of faith. I will be paying my Nursing Services forward on that international scale instead-I am grateful to my mentors and my educators and consultants. I really do not know what tomorrow brings. Except what I know is that I will be serving the next 32 days on the borders (less than 2kms off from) of Myanmar and Bangladesh with the Finnish Red Cross as an Operating Theatre Nurse. This second mission (My first mission was with the Norwegian Red Cross in 2017) for me with the NZ Red Cross is of significance as I wanted to ground myself with the humanitarian work and be available and flexible for any upcoming international missions.

Closed doors

I have been immersing myself with thoughtful reflections and wanting a career change. The thought of greener pastures and a flood of questions ran through my head before taking that mighty plunge! But don’t get me wrong-I still want to serve in the health and medical sector as the demand and the need is so overwhelmingly great. A big part of me still wanted to no matter the circumstances. The questions of “what do I want to do now, what am I qualified to do and what are my options” kept flowing and circling around in my head. Bearing in mind that I don’t have any families-but instead I have an extensive supportive network of friends who have kept me afloat with advice-it was up to me to execute the information and the actions. That knowledge with execution is power! Leap of Faith

I kept going back to my business card and thankfully I have built myself up in my entrepreneurial pursuits. I have options. Yes, like every other woman I have delved into my own motivations, fears and abilities. But it’s ok to take a break. Its ok to pause. Its ok to reflect and celebrate achievements. Its ok to put that entrepreneurial hat on-there are opportunities. Its ok to dive into development work in the rural areas anywhere in the world. Its ok.

I am entering a massive career change. Jenny Galluzzo the Co Founder of the Second Shift reminded women who are considering a career change to take these factors into consideration. Firstly, she advises to conduct an audit of yourself. Dive deep, be honest with yourself and maintain optimisim. What parts of the job do you want to take with you-what aspects of the job you want to leave behind? Take stock of your skillset and what sets you apart. Secondly, she emphasized the importance of setting up your intention. Chart the path to your goals. Do you have a vision board? I do. I am working towards publishing a Vanuatu Childrens Book! Its a great major distraction to helping me prepare for my international missions. Thirdly, she encourages us to remember to take deep breaths. Stay positive and learn how to breathe deeply and be confident of the outcome. Finally, she pushes us to do our homework. Prepare for your future success. Network. Do projects even if they are unpaid. It may feel like treading water but it is all beneficial in the long run as it adds up on your CV. The concluding advice has been to not allow fear or uncertainty to blind you to opportunities that present themselves along the way. But the best wise notes were from Michelle Obama who stated that the question of what you want to be when you grow up is one that you will eternally be answering. 

Solange Lopes, the CEO and Founder of the Corporate Sister LLC similarly reminded us women of that transitioning from a corporate career to entrepreneurship can be scary but there are ways to approach it. She pushes us to start taking care of that mindset-to work on increasing your self-confidence through self care, positive mindset practices and challenging yourself to face your fears. Be financially prepared she stated. Remember to set money aside when you are still employed. This is an essential part of the transitioning as you will need to consider living below your means. Mind your emotions she cautioned. Show yourself a much needed compassion and learn to use your emotions to boost your entrepreneurial ventures despite the rollacoaster of unpredictable ups and downs. Have a realistic plan and but be flexible so you can execute them-this could be potentially impactful! Don’t forget your network-they are your support and the most effective ways you can succeed Lopes emphasized. Its this networks that you have built over the years that will most likely land your clients, deals and opportunities. More importantly make self-care a priority. There are times when self care needs to be your number one priority!Self Care

I have been reminded to be humble by my very good friend Brett Childs-that is so important and valid! Stay humble. I will remind you too. Humility is such a powerful trait in leadership. It is not low self-esteem. It isn’t thinking less of yourself. But it is thinking less about yourself. Genuine humility is about perceptiveness, self-awareness and kindness and makes people more candid, compassionate and charitable. It is important to know that humble leaders are honest on both their strengths and limitations. They are confident without being conceited; open minded without being obstinate, and supportive without being submissive as Aaron Orendorff noted in his article. The X factor of leadership is not personality, it is humility!

Humility

Humility listens. Humility tests. Humility admits. Think about these powerful traits of humility and practice them.

 

Practising Philanthrophy Values

“Giving makes us feel better and that positive energy can roll over into other areas of our lives, both professional and personal.” A powerful quote from Philanthropher Luke Weil, the founder of Andina Aquisition.Philanthrophy

I have lived in the city of Porirua, Wellington, New Zealand for 18 years-that’s a long time.  Thats half of my adult life spent overseas from Vanuatu being single and without a boyfriend. These 18 years have all been challenging, engaging and life changing. They were huge and dramatic periods where I basically learnt “how to grow up in the real world” without my parents. I made a lot of mistakes-mistakes that were costly, embarrassing, humiliating and upsetting. Yet I have embraced those changes-the best investment I have made despite all these ill-mannered decisions and behaviours was establishing, creating and maintaining trusted relationships. These relationships with strangers turned them into my international family. My sense of family and belonging was valued and protected. I longed so much to be part of a family-and maybe that was largely due to the fact that I grew up in a village where I knew everyone, we shared food and resources and we give our services to those who needed it for free. I have grown to love them, shared my space with them, gave and shared my heart to them, celebrated achievements with them, grieved with them for our losses and supported bigger projects and investments with them all. Community Investment

Further to my family investments, I desperately wanted to learn more about the local community and the wider international community. I remembered that Philanthropy is an educational experience and more importantly too it’s about leveraging my networks. This is a personal educational investment which is community and organisation based. I was willing to learn more, make sacrifices and re-adjust my priorities so I can engage in the local communities and organisations in giving back. My fathers values echoed louder here as he has always advised me to give back to the community-simply because of the fact that the community will help and support you in times of need. I will never forget that. He was walking the talk back home in the village too-my observations have reflected that and I have seen him give back to the community in many generous ways. Some of the ways that I have seen his open-heartedness and kind-heartedness for example were him giving up his fair share of the cocoa and coconut plantations harvest seasons on his land for other families and strangers to harvest so they can get an income. The positive rippling effects of this altruistic behaviour, this brotherly love, the open-handedness, the unselfishness, his humanity and compassion has signficantly driven me to do the same-he has reaped the benefits of these relationships. Walk the Talk

The support and the respect my father Peter has recieved and gained has been phenomenal and overwhelmingly life changing in rewarding positive ways. I saw a similar community giving by my younger sister Flaviea who cared just as much as my loving mother Ruby. Flaviea as encouraged by my mother saved her income and made a difference to the lives of our elderly in the village by distributing gifts to them a couple of Christmas seasons-that was a profound behaviour and activity of giving that will remain with me forever. The joyous reactions from the elderly was something we will never forget. My whole family became so proud of that giving that we talked about it so often. CALL-FOR-ENTRY-2018

For the first time ever in 2018, I wanted to give back to my local international community by sponsoring an Arts Award at our City Museum-this is a First Entry Award worth NZ$500.00 of monetary value. This is in line with my goal of giving back to the community but more importantly that I am building a childrens museum back in Vanuatu. What better way to give back. It is about creating, building up and maintaining that crucial local support, build a profile and more importantly an International Brand! This award I am giving wholeheartedly and it feels like the right thing to do. 

Together with my Real Estate Investments and saving up a little from my 2017 International New Zealand Red Cross Humanitarian Mission, I have managed to come up with this amount to help a first time artist. Its an opportunity to establish and create a special bond and connection to culture and art locally. Culture and Art do provide a sense of passion for me and in that industry-like linguistics and anthropology; it feels like it is the right thing to do. I hope to continue sponsoring this award in the coming years as this has given me more opportunities to think creatively, to solve problems and improve situations that affect me personally. But the most important factor has been to leave a living legacy to the international community so the future generations do not miss out. 

“to give effectively, give locally and compassionately” that is what I am doing and will continue to do in different ways. I am contributing in two ways for now. I am effectively giving and serving at the moment is through monetary value to local arts projects to help a young artist discover their talents and pursue a career out of it. On a global level, I am giving and contributing my unique and life saving medical and nursing skillset to make a little difference to the world’s suffering.

I hope you can do the same too where ever in the world you are. Philanthrophy Quotes

A Rural Miracle Seedling of Life-Profiling our Rural Melanesian Womens Voice

In her Book “Hard Choices” Hilary Rodham Clinton wrote “All of us face hard choices in our lives. Life is about making such choices. Our choices and how we handle them shape the people we become.”

The International Womens Day March 8th 2018 will be a day ingrained into my mind-a day I will remember for a very long time. The bougainvillea vines flowed into the dining space. Sitting down on a beautiful morning sharing brunch at the elegant Winemakers Daughter Winery and Tasting Bar in Otaki (http://www.winemakersdaughter.com/), I was honoured to sit amongst my good friends of Melanesian Women but more importantly the UN Women of Wellington. My good friend Fiona Morris-our guest speaker spoke eloquently on her experiences of UN Markets for Change with her husband, the famous photographer Murray Llyod as VSA Volunteers in Vanuatu after Cyclone Pam-a catgeory 5 hurricane had long damaging effects in 2015. The photographs were raw and powerful and spoke on the impacts of severe climate changes that our Vanuatu Women had faced to try and make ends meet. A successful exhibition headed by Janet Bayly, the Director of the Mahara Gallery in Waikanae followed and provided a space and platform for these stories of trials, hardships and emotions to be told and shared-the work of Fiona and Murray needed to be honoured and acknowledged and shared to the women of the world.  (http://www.maharagallery.org.nz/mahara/generate_section_Final.cgi?sesid=dntbot_166191YnDpoJ3g2X6&secno=65010&crc=37286398)

But what stemmed out from this successful breakast meeting themed “achieving gender equality and empowering rural women and girls- together we can empower rural women in the Pacific” was the miracle seedling being planted to get the women of melanesia together in Wellington. It was time Wellington and the world saw, valued, recognised and acknowledged the presence of our melanesian women. They have so much to contribute. They are powerful women. They are women who are on the front lines of poverty, conflict, climate change, food insecurity and global economic crisis. And they are not alone. The rural women of the other third world countries share the exact same hardships, endurances, values and challenges too.

It was time we leveraged ourselves with these UN Women, a group of professional women who have so much to give and contribute. They were helping our rual melanesian women with the Meri Bus Project in PNG. This worthy cause was and is still life changing which is benefitting our women and girls lives so they are free from sexual violence and their safety is guaranteed each day as they return home from work or schools. UN Women Trip

The Wellington Melanesian Womens Group was a CHOICE I had to whisper to my good friend Glorious Oxenham. Something had to change. Someone had to make a move. There is a new generation and blood of women who are willing to make sacrifices and lead. We smelt the urgent need for change. We tasted that sea salt of change. We felt that wind of change. The sails and paddles were re-adjusting on our wakas and canoes. It was time our foot and hand prints walk the talk of change. We are going to sail that big Pacific Ocean. Together with Christine Hundleby and Ancey Wamiri, we collaborated our ideas of supporting our rural melanesian women.  That seedling germinated and had a breath of life into it. Little did I know how well it was going to impact or be recieved.1-wahine-hawaiian-canoe-paddlers-stephen-jorgensen

Three months onwards as we set the big sails on this big canoe, welcomed onboard the melanesian women and friends crew, refined and honed the sails and paddles and continued supporting our local women I wondered, how far this group will go. My gut instincts tell me it is going to be influencing and impacting. It will be positive.  It will be emotional. It will touch womens lives to be able to share their stories of struggles and heroism. It will be life changing but more importantly, this will be a long lasting legacy on a global stage in terms of social enterpreneurism. It is about passion over profits and so it should be. This is a community of like-minded women who are gathering socially to share a synergy of vision and goals to support their women in the rural melanesia.

Equipped with a vision of being and providing a platform for our rural melanesian womens voice, it is also armed with a mission of partnering, supporting, connecting and working alongside our global organisations, groups and investors to empowering our melanesian women both abroad and rurally in the Pacific. With growing support and online presence, this group has suddenly multiplied and made it’s mark. Melanesia needs a new breed of social entrepreneurs! There is an urgent need for us young melanesians to reach out to educate our youths in colleges, to work collaboratively with our goverments to provide beneficial incentives for businesses, to attract interest from investors so we can work on solutions together in a social capacity, and to be excited about creating new strategies and innovations that work.

Being the chairwoman of this newly established group of women, I feel very empowered to see the vision of social change. I feel extremely lucky to be supported in that role with these incredible women and I am grateful for that. I am empowered to see our men who are very supportive of the group step in and up to lend a hand. I feel even more lucky to witness our other non-melanesian friends get behind this initiative to make it grow. They come fully armed and equipped with unique skills and marketing opportunities. I am awestruck to see and hear our young people, in particular the youth and the young melanesian generations eagerly wanting to be engaged and more importantly say “use me as that weapon of change and impact too!” It made me realise the power of networking. It created a special space for our melanesian women to come together and share our powerful stories of social injustices, violence and emotional abuse. It provided a space for us to share healing with each other through cultural stories, songs, music and the pidgin language; to tell each other that we can walk this foreign journey together-side by side and not alone; to tell each other we are here for you; to celebrate our roles and achievements and more importantly to be an advocate to our rural women and girls.

I have big visions and goals for this group and I believe it will achieve a lot of good will in rural communities. More importantly, with the women coming together I see a lot of wonderful social projects being created from this group. The projects are exciting and engaging and are connecting.

Yes, it is safe to say that taking that leap of faith has been worth it.

Wellington Melanesian Women

Diversifying My Community Pursuits

The first ever volunteer role that I undertook was volunteering for the Mana Sea Cadets-T.S. Taupo in the surburb that I live in. We worked to raise funds for the sea cadets and that work involved cleaning up after the farmers market in Porirua City. I learnt time management, organisational skills, hard work and the ability to make and meet new friends. Networking began for me right there contributing to the community in supporting our young people to learn new skills.

Mana Sea Cadets

I tried maintaining my religious beliefs by volunteering at The Street City Church in Wellington too for a couple of years. I had been a regular church goer for more than 7 years and I enjoyed it a lot. I learnt my love for children and keeping them entertained in the midst of unsettlement during the church services. That trust was so important, the engagement, the ability to read and create stories, the art and creativity, the precious hugs and kisses from the children and the gratefulness of parents. SOM Children

The love of reading childrens stories and creating playful activities really resonated with me and inspired me to do a lot more writing. My frequent visits to Vanuatu for the holidays and bringing childrens books with me made my youngest sister start off an “afterschool childrens reading club” in the village. We would host it at home and our immediate cousins would front up just to get help with their readings. By the time, I was ready to leave, other children in the village would spur in but would miss out as the reading clubs were ending. It had proven so popular and the environment was so supportive in that the children helped each other out with word pronounciations and meanings. I loved every minute of it when the sunsets.

Climbing the Alps

I loved my short volunteering role with Bellyful Porirua in 2014. This charitable organisation is so important in delivering and providing meals to our families with newborns and to those families with young children who are struggling with illness. That first meal is often very much needed relief for first time mothers who are re-adjusting to a completely different lifestyle.

I enjoyed learning and participating in the Porirua City Civil Defence programme for our village of Plimmerton and the wider communities. It has taught me so much about being prepared for emergencies, having back up plans, establishing rescue paths, knowing my neighbours and providing reconnaissance to our neighbours who are affected in times of natural disasters. It has taught me a lot of life saving skills and more importantly how to use a portable emergency radio to connect to the wider emergency organisations like the ambulance and the fire service.

I am currently serving as a Pacific Advisory Group (PAG) Member to the New Zealand Red Cross since 2016. This is a role I have come to quitely embrace as it was such a learning curve for me. I was one of the First Pacific Melanesian Females to serve in that group. The other prominent and noteable female was our Chief Luamanuvao Lealamanuá Caroline Mareko who has been a rock solid support for this group. She had been through the large ChristChurch earthquake that struck in 2011 and came with a lot of experiences and constructive discussions and ideas to help the group. The NZ Red Cross is the only NGO that has a PAG attached to it as we continually see the huge impact of natural disasters across the Pacific. Currently, the Ambae Volcanoe eruptions (April 2018) continue in Vanuatu as thousands are displaced. The health impacts are enormous especially with breathing carbon mono-oxide gases. The recent PNG 7.5 magnitude earthquake (February 26 2018) and another 6.2 that subsequently followed with more aftershocks had left thousands who are without the basic needs of water, food and shelter. The frequency of cyclones across the Pacific has become so regular that planning is vital for deployment of resources and support. The magnitude of these disasters are always huge and desperate and humanitarian organisations such as Red Cross play a vital part to delivering aide to these Pacific regions. But we need to educate our people on civil defence and being prepared-it is about building capability and resilience amongst our people.

Plimmerton Get Ready

The biggest lessons I have learnt in community development and maintenance is by serving voluntarily on the Paremata Residents Association. The insights and the networks I have learnt have served me wonders and I am forever grateful for that longing to become established and be part of a good community and citizen. I learnt about caring about the natural environment that is a huge part of our lives. I learnt more about our harbour and it’s residents and the different organisations that help preserve it’s beauty. I learnt to network, listened to business proposals, attended community meetings, carved my communication skills to make announcements to the thousands of residents, volunteered my time to contribute to newsletter drop offs. For a few months, I dedicated my weekly time to delivering Kapi Mana Newspaper to the local residents of Mana. It was a great way to meet the older residents who lived alone, connect and share stories but more importantly it gave me a lot of time to admire real estate-one of my long interests! It gave me time to dream!

Mana Marina

I served on the Pacific Advisory Group in Wellington for the City Council for a couple of years. I was the First Female Melanesian to serve at the Council. There, it opened my insight further into the work of the local government council. It reminded me of my father’s work in the village in Vanuatu. He served as a councillor with the local government council at Provincial headquarters for a couple of years. This meant he travelled a lot too. I loved listening to him talking about possible business ventures and the challenges of having a government that does not support out local grass roots farmers. Those were tough times. He learnt about adequate and proper sanitation so he built a better water flushing toilet for us with a bathroom. He got a bit of criticism from the villagers as they didn’t understand the need for better and health sanitation. My mother often spoke about the hardships that he faced with having to pay out from his own pocket money when there was a demand from other relatives who were struggling to pay for an event or occasion. I never knew. Of course, why would my mother tell us? We were children. We didn’t need to know. But I have always observed my father to be giving and generous-whatever little he had, he would give. I speak the same and highly of my mother in every respect. That sharing was communal and mutual. These days are different-the world has changed. One day when I become that mother to my own children, I will make sure they understand the challenges of the day-to-day household budgeting.

In 2013 my name was put forward by the Ex Solomon Islands High Commissioner HE Rhys Richards to become the first Melanesian to serve on the Pataka Musuem Friends Committee. What a challenge! My only credentials to that was from my international fundraising activities and more importantly successfully executing our first ever Melanesia Day at the Pataka Museum ( http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/8606063/Party-at-Poriruas-Pataka-museum). That would have contributed to how to access funding except I knew nothing about it. Here I strived to learn more about the organisation and how it was recieving support from the community, the government, the NGOs and the entreprenuers. The Friends led an amazing array of art activities and projects throughout the year to help support and herald the work of the Pataka Musuem. What an incredible opportunity to help out and learn but more importantly longterm, it was more about building relationships and working towards how to build a museum. I love their projects-they range from engaging with the arts communities with holding the Arts Trail where local artists, carvers and weavers welcome the public into their spaces, to helping young artists discover their dreams and aspirations-both our Arts Awards and Music Series are a real hit with the local Porirua Communities. Pataka Museum Melanesia

Living in a foreign country and away from my family will always be a struggle. I miss the role modelling of the senior women and notably my own mother. She was a woman of many talents especially when it came to cleaning. I called her a clean freak at times, she almost has this OCD about cleaning (I love her, don’t get me wrong) but I often wondered what her euology would be like one day when she is gone; more importantly, what her tombstone would read. I was so used to living in a village-like community and Porirua City felt so right for me being more rural. I was desperate for senior women role models; for some mentorship and fellowship from professional women. I eventually found that in the Zonta Club of Mana. It was part of a larger organisation of District 16 called Zonta International (https://www.zonta.org/) and it was all about supporting and advocating for women on a global scale. What an excitment to be part of that group-I was the youngest in this group and the value of belonging to this organisation has been transformational and life changing. I became the first Melanesian Young Woman to serve on the local Zonta Club of Mana Board as a Co-Convener for Fundraiser. I learnt a lot and socialised with the women. It was destined for greater purposes!

But my biggest volunteer role has been my tireless services to the Wellington Vanuatu Community as their Secretary. An active role I played and held on for 12 solid years. I loved my country and the people especially the women. It was about serving in a visible way internationally but more importantly to represent their voice. The International Womens Day 2018 is all about achieving gender equality and empower rural women and girls. Together we can empower rural women in the Pacific. In taking that step further, I have played an active role and advocacy to help set up a first Wellington Melanesian Womens Group to reach out to our Rural Melanesian Women in the Pacific. This is a massive achievement on an international level.Strong Women

Diversifying My Professional Pursuits

“Don’t let the opinions of an average man sway you. Dream, and he thinks you’re crazy. Succeed and he thinks you’re lucky. Acquire wealth, and he thinks you’re greedy. Pay no attention. He simply doesn’t understand.” Robert G. Allen

I’ve become so motivated by the wise words of Mr Allen above. Nothing else is going to stop me. I’ve set goals. I am driven by them. I have a vision board that reminds me of whats important. I have written out 8 pages of these goals and how I am going to achieve them. They have times on them. They are long term goals. These goals have a certain theme to them-to help me achieve financial independence so I can live a lifestyle that I truly want. That goal is contributing to the work of humanity in this world and to build a cultural museum for the children. Ms Ardern the Prime Minister of New Zealand tells us all to Dream Big!

My business card is busy.  It reads a signficant amount of hats that I wear proudly. I worked hard to gain some extra qualifications; a Postgraduate Certificate in Perioperative Nursing, a Postgraduate Certificate and a Postgraduate Diploma in Health Sciences in addition to my Bachelor of Nursing as well.

The roles include being a New Zealand Registered Comprehensive Nurse, a Humanitarian, an Independent Marriage Celebrant, a Writer and a Blogger, a Ninde Language (Vanuatu) Consultant with Bislama translations and interpretation interests for freelance work, a Real Estate Investor, a Community Volunteer and an Entrepreneur. I’ve worked hard to earn them. I chose to. At a community event where I was giving a talk to the villagers in 2015-I counted 17 hats that I wore or had responsibilities to! Some of these hats were short term but required a lot of accountability and transparency for success. I believed in those roles and I saw the benefits in taking the roles and contributing to moving forward. Just like I was taught to diversify my stocks and investments, I chose to invest in the power of knowledge with execution-to volunteer and build my community. Juggling Multiple Projects

Despite being a health professional, a service I have dedicated to for over 14 years saving lives every day I still value my time into being a community volunteer in the city I live in. This is the biggest value I have gained from my contribution into community projects-all for FREE with no monetary gains. It has taught me so much and is the most satisfying. That I am and will be forever grateful for.

I’d like to share a few advice that I have learnt so far with diversifying my professional pursuits-they are common which a few entrepreneurs would agree with me with creating multiple streams of income. While many have critcised me for juggling too many balls in the air, not being productive and spreading myself too thin, many have also sung praises for the energy I had. I had one true goal in mind and that was establishing my financial security long term. In her book  “Entrepreneurial You” Dori Clark emphasised the importance of diversifying your income and career so you are never left in the lurch if you lose your job. The one crucial point that she made for me was by having multiple jobs and income sources so it helps with developing more skills and building that personal brand.

Everyone needs to understand that they are unique. No one person is the same. Each person has unique gifts, abilities, life experiences and value to offer. We all have 24 hours a day,168 hours in one week and how we choose to spend it is entirely up to us. Some of us choose to build on these values by improving ourselves while others choose not to. One reason people succeed is that they have knowledge others don’t have. That means they have clarifed their unique value. They carefully package this unique value and sell it to others. I am doing the same with being an Independent Marriage Celebrant for example. It involves being creative, public speaking skills and selling that personality.Wedding Celebrant

These days the ability to network is valuable and proves a lot of worth. We get so creative with getting professionals or close friends together to work on projects or to find commonalities and grounding. The value of identifying and serving that market is also crucial because when we offer those skills-there is a potential source of income right there. We build that community, we identify their desires and we create and customise the solution. We launch the products or the service at a cost to create the income. We identify the niche in the market to fulfil it. I do that using my freelance work with the translations. I am also hoping to do that with publishing my first childrens book that I had written out in a few other languages for marketing purposes. But longterm-wise, my ability to recognise the value in leveraging from real estate has served me well. It has created a little side income for me.  I encourage you to do the same too.

The biggest lesson in life that I have learnt is the value of mentorship. I did not have one mentor. I had multiple. I had people who influenced me in my different stages of life and journey. I went out to find them. I volunteered with my community roles to find these valuable people. I made the effort and I did not hold back. I had a goal to achieve. I had dreams and aspirations. I wanted to share my goals with someone I could trust, someone I believe could work with me, someone who believed my goals and who believes in me. I worked around how I was going to achieve those big goals. The last 10 years was focused on educating myself and investing in self-development. I have spent hundreds of hours at the Wellington City Central Library. There I worked on crafting, honing, and moulding my brand through reading hundreds of books per year. It is the real estate investor brand. It was such a huge risk but it has been worthwhile. I had trouble finding a mentor despite the numerous efforts in seeking a mentor in that field. I have yet to find that mentor. I believe I will. This will be the person who will help me soar. Mentorship

The passion and love for reading books helped me become a bookwormer too. I loved reading about the real estate and keeping up with the market. I loved attending multiple real estate seminars and networking. The little steps and habits that I created each day helped me focus and minimise the calculated risk. I had to take a lot of self responsibility to grow, develop, make life changing decisions and choices to look after my retirement planning.

The power of diversifying your professional pursuits or career is extremely beneficial. It helps you build your skills and your brand. Trust me, it does!

Dream career