Shekainah was all smiles last April, as one of ten students graduating from the latest He Poutama Rangatahi course. Shekainah thanked her tutors and Visionwest, “My awesome tutors and the teams from housing, food support and counselling – I thank all of them. Visionwest has literally changed my life.”
“Schooling wasn’t that great for me. I felt like I just didn’t fit in. I finished school in the start of Year 10 and went straight into another course. That wasn’t that great either. I dropped out and never finished. I was smart but too focused on other things; things that weren’t that important now that I think back on them. Then I came to Visionwest, and I saw what a great opportunity I’d been given, so I grabbed it and went for it.”
By the time Shekainah completed her course, she had gained her driver’s licence, compiled her first ever CV, and received a number of job opportunities. More than this, however, she had gained self-confidence and direction for her life.
“I felt like I was going through life like a headless chicken; I had all the information and motivation but wasn’t sure how to make use of it all and get ahead in life. I took the step and enrolled at Ōhinga Tū (Visionwest’s youth development service). I met people who believed in me and saw my potential. That made me feel confident and one day I woke up thinking, ‘I can do this!’”
“I admit that there were times when the course was tough and I felt like giving up, but my tutors were like, ‘No, no, no! We’re not letting that happen.’ And they stuck with me. What I got out of this course is like a glue – all the pieces you have in your life, they put them all together and provide you with everything you need to get somewhere.”
Her time at Ōhinga Tū has left Shekainah with hope and a dream for the future. “I really want to do something along the lines of what Visionwest is doing. I would love to get a job here or in a community service like this. I just want to help young people like me who couldn’t, or thought they couldn’t, get ahead and show them that it’s possible.”