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A star is rising

23 November 2021

Maria* is a lively 18-year-old who has come leaps and bounds over the last two years and her star is rising!

When we first met Maria two years ago, she was just 16 and had suffered a lot for someone at such a young age.

Maria's devastation started when her father died. Barely able to cope with the overwhelming loss, Maria was brought to her knees when, a short time later, her brother died.

Unable to turn to her mother for the support and sympathy she needed because her mother was the victim of drug abuse, Maria was spiralling downwards in her crushing grief.

The unfathomable anguish that struck Maria is hard to comprehend and Maria's life was shattered.

She was unable to make sense of these tragedies, she felt powerless, frustrated and alone.

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.

Will you help?

People like Maria need our help and we need your help to provide services for young people who are struggling. Will you consider giving a gift to help others like Maria?

About LSV

LSV is a voluntary and free 6-week training course. It's run by New Zealand Defence Force and supported by people wanting to work with young people.

Participants will live on an army base which will be in either:

  • Auckland (Whenuapai)
  • Wellington (Trentham), or
  • Christchurch (Burnham).

In most cases, participants will go to the base closest to where they live.

Participants will meet new people and take part in a range of activities to:

  • Increase their confidence
  • Earn NZQA credits
  • Learn new skills
  • Get fit and healthy
  • Be proud of themselves
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