DAILY GRIND

Central Leader - - NEWS -

From work­ing in an African or­phan­age to or­gan­is­ing New Zealand adop­tions, Stephanie Hills has done it all.

The trained coun­sel­lor started at East Auck­land Fam­ily Works in Mt Wellington as a team leader in July.

Hills en­joys over­see­ing the mix of ev­ery­thing from parenting classes and so­cial work to bud­get­ing and work­ing in schools. Get­ting peo­ple through tough times is a hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence, she says.

‘‘There’s quite a few that stick in your mind and you just won­der how they’re go­ing now. It’s a real priv­i­lege to be part of that jour­ney.

‘‘I’m a quiet per­son but I guess I just un­der­stand peo­ple and can re­late to dif­fer­ent prob­lems that peo­ple might have.’’

Hills, 58, grad­u­ated from train­ing as a coun­sel­lor in the 90s after work­ing for Child Youth and Fam­ily for 13 years where she or­gan­ised adop­tions for fam­i­lies. Be­ing part of the process was very spe­cial, she says.

She then spent time work­ing at The Monastery women’s re­treat, Hamil­ton Rape and Sex­ual Abuse Heal­ing Cen­tre and Ho­hepa Homes, an ed­u­ca­tion or­gan­i­sa­tion for peo­ple with men­tal dis­abil­i­ties.

In 2012, Hills vol­un­teered at an or­phan­age in Ghana.

The in­sti­tu­tion was very poor, un­hy­gienic and strug­gled to make ends meet but the chil­dren were

de­spite un­be­liev­ably happy hard­ship, she says.

It is a les­son more Ki­wis could take on board, she says.

‘‘Peo­ple in Ghana don’t seem to carry their trou­bles around with them, they’re light and free. Here you just see peo­ple walk­ing around with the world on their shoul­ders.

‘‘We do have dif­fer­ent trou­bles in many ways but it does give you some­thing to com­pare.

‘‘I think we just worry more about the fu­ture, sav­ing for a house, ev­ery­thing, but they’re just forced to live day-to-day. That can be a bless­ing in dis­guise.’’

A pas­sion­ate writer, Hills’ first com­pleted novel Argenta was pub­lished by Scholas­tic in 2008.

She has other manuscripts in the works and loves the es­capism of cre­at­ing another world.

Hills is also a cryp­tic crossword fa­natic and started writ­ing clues to keep her­self at the top of her game.

‘‘Writ­ing is just an es­cape. It’s sim­i­lar to read­ing in that way but with writ­ing you’re go­ing over and over it in cir­cles and you get far more in­volved. The words have to carry not just the mes­sage but the whole at­mos­phere. You cre­ate the mood.’’

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