Tak­ing the road to free­dom

Jus­tan Wilson’s life changed when he lost his young brother Ran­gi­tiriao Wilson in a tragic ac­ci­dent in Septem­ber this year. Jus­tan has be­come a spokesman and men­tor for the new an­tibul­ly­ing pro­gramme Free­dom Road, which is be­ing run by the Toko­roa YMCA. J

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

In Novem­ber I was in­vited by Tash We­hipei­hana-kaea to at­tend the first Free­dom Road work­shop at the YMCA, to help men­tor ran­gatahi (youth) in Toko­roa.

My first thought when asked was, yes I’m keen but I didn’t know how I could help or what I could pos­si­bly say that would in­spire and help the youths with what­ever they were deal­ing with.

I’m just a nor­mal hard­core hori Toko­roar­ian.

I like to work hard and play hard. So my at­ti­tude to­wards most prob­lems is to har­den up, get it done and save the tears for Oprah.

Be­fore the loss of my younger sib­ling Ran­gi­tiriao, hard­en­ing up was my way of life. But af­ter los­ing my brother, I could not hold back the tears. My aroha for my lil bro tran­scended all worlds.

He was a gift that can’t and will never be re­placed in my life­time.

The night be­fore the work­shop, I sat qui­etly in my room, ask­ing my bro (Rangi) if he could at­tend the work­shop with me in spirit. I asked for his wairua to guide me through what was, for me, a lit­tle bit out of my com­fort zone.

At 9 the fol­low­ing morn­ing I walked through the doors of the YMCA feel­ing like I was alone, and no-one there could pos­si­bly un­der­stand my pain.

But I was will­ing to give it a shot and do my best to lis­ten to oth­ers, and maybe just share a lit­tle.

The day started out great. They gave me a free T-shirt. I was like ‘‘chur, it’s pur­ple even, my lil bro’s favourite colour’’.

I no­ticed a few peo­ple I knew. Some were my brother’s mates, some from around town and some I knew also had re­cent losses. This made me loosen up a bit and made the rest of my day eas­ier.

For confidential rea­sons, I can’t share too much, but I can hon­estly say I, as well as all the ran­gatahi and men­tors, ended the day know­ing we weren’t the only ones suf­fer­ing. We are not alone, we are all spe­cial, and each of us has been given the gift of life.

A life to live, which is some­times sad but can also be happy with smiles.

Free­dom Road for me is about sup­port­ing each other, es­pe­cially our youth. Let­ting them know they’re not alone and build­ing fu­ture role mod­els for Toko­roa to be proud of.

I en­tered feel­ing alone. I left through the same doors feel­ing proud to be a part of an awe­some com­mu­nity.

FREE­DOM ROAD: Men­tors were in­spired at a re­cent work­shop.

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