Diabetes is not holding this support worker back
Type one diabetes once held Tokoroa’s TJ Raivaru back but now he’s all about pushing on.
Despite having fallen into eight comas in his 22 years, some of which have lasted for up to five days, Raivaru is determined to live as normal a life as possible while helping others to do the same.
He’s taken on a role as a disability support worker at Te Wananga o Aotearoa’s Tokoroa campus which offers a range of mainly free courses guided by Maori principles and values.
Students with learning difficulties, such as reading or writing, are helped by Raivaru who himself was able to get his life on track through the edu- cation provider.
He’s completed not only a certificate in business administration but also levels two to four in computing and a diploma in information technology.
‘‘This is the stuff I really do get into and it’s good being able to make it a bit easier for [students] to understand how things work,’’ he said.
But it’s been no easy road for the now aspiring animator to get to where he is today.
Although born with diabetes, it wasn’t until he was nearly 13 that he began to show signs.
‘‘I was ending up in comas in hospital at least once a year and most of it was due to my condition not being handled properly,’’ he said.
‘‘I was neglecting to take insulin or certain shots at the right time because I was getting really sick of having to get up and take them so I ended up not bothering.’’
He said enrolling at Te Wananga o Aotearoa allowed him to find direction in his life and he began to look after himself better too.
‘‘While I was still doing the course I ended up in hospital but after I came out I went straight back to finish my work which a lot of people were shocked by but for me I knew I had already had an episode so I knew I just needed to get my work done,’’ he said.
‘‘I’ve been pretty good lately taking my shots because I don’t want to end up in hospital again and since I’ve finished my courses here I have in mind to eventually do animation design but there is very strong competition so I have to think carefully about what area I want to get into.’’
He encouraged others to take up study despite their setbacks.
‘‘[Te Wananga o Aotearoa] is a good place to start,’’ he said.
Te Wananga o Aotearoa’s Tokoroa campus disability support worker TJ Raivaru with some of his animation sketches.