Tevita’s Eternal Gratitude
The tears running down Tevita’s Pohiva’s cheeks are tears of thankfulness.
Having spent close to two decades in Australia successfully running a business providing workers for the rural sectors, he discovered the so-called lucky country was not so generous when his deteriorating health - due to diabetes - began to take its toll.
With no Australian government support available, he and his family, including wife Nina and daughter Mel were sent back to New Zealand where they had lived for many years (having originally come from Tonga).
They chose to live in Tauranga, which has one of the fastest growing Pacific populations in the country and the cost of living is cheaper than in Auckland.
But with the local Tauranga Hospital full to capacity to provide the dialysis treatment Tevita needs three times a week, he needed to go to Waikato Hospital in Hamilton, more than 100km and one and a half hours away.
“We were scheduled to go on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays … which was fine until our van broke down and we didn’t have the money to fix it,” says Mel, translating on behalf of her family.
Through the Tongan networks, the Pohiva family heard about the Pacific Island Community Trust, Aere Tai’s Tauranga Provider, and met Community Support Worker Sinafoni (Foni) Tafuna.
Foni embraced an advocacy role on the family’s behalf, which the Pohivas are eternally grateful for.
“They gave us help to get the car fixed so we can go to Hamilton to get the treatment Dad needs,” Mel adds.
Through Foni and the team at PICT, the family are looking for suitable accommodation, with the family of seven currently living in a three-bedroom house with only one toilet and bathroom.
It’s so crowded there’s no room for a dining table and, with his condition, Tevita is forced to sleep in the main living and kitchen area. The bathroom is also extremely slippery when wet and Tevita’s eyes well with tears as he recounts the physical struggles his family has when trying to assist him in and out of a bath without safety hand rails.
But the tears of frustration turn to joy when he speaks of the lengths Foni and PICT go to help find more suitable accommodation for the Pohivas.
“Everything Foni and the Trust have done has been a great help,” says Mel.
“My Dad is so thankful because we don’t know where we’d be without them.”
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