As a way of coping with such terrible trauma, she started to 'act out', couldn't settle at school and was unable to concentrate on her education.
Finally, Maria reached a crisis point and decided that she no longer belonged in school and left without any qualifications.
Life was already extremely precarious for Maria, and it would only get worse with limited employment prospects.
The shy young woman was falling off the proverbial rails and without some professional intervention, Maria's future was looking very grim.
But there's always hope and that came in the form of our Youth Service and Youth Coach, Stacy*, whose training and skills were going to make a massive difference to Maria’s life.
Stacy explains, “Maria was dealing with some pretty big problems but I knew she had enormous potential and she just needed someone to help guide her and give her a sense of identity and pride."
With some encouragement, Maria decided to go back to school and has since completed NCEA Levels 1 and 2. While this may seem a small step, it's very significant for Maria.
Stacy then persuaded Maria to go a step further and sign up for the Limited Service Volunteer programme (LSV) with the NZ Defence Force.
LSV is funded by Work and Income and is free for young people to attend. It’s an intensive six-week residential programme that helps rangatahi develop life skills and job skills.
“Maria thrived at LSV and developed good relationships with her mentors who were instilling in her a strong sense of discipline through physical and cultural training. Her graduation was phenomenal and she is now flourishing.”
Maria has achieved big things over the last two years. She’s living independently and is now an apprentice chef and loving the challenge.
“Maria is a highly valued member of the restaurant team. Her work ethic is exemplary and she’s loving the environment.”
Stacy has been instrumental in helping Maria over the last two years. “We’ve gone for walks together to talk about issues and, together, we’ve celebrated Maria’s wins.
Maria is now building a future where she feels proud of her accomplishments. Her star is definitely shining!
*Names and photos have been changed to protect privacy.