In the blink of an eye, Faaea Rimoni’s world turned upside down. It was in 2006. Faaea was weaving and caring for her then six-month baby when she felt a change in her body and excruciating pain in her head.
“At that moment, I knew something was wrong… and then suddenly, everything went pitch black. I could not see,” recalls the mother of eight from Tokelau.
There are no planes from Tokelau to Samoa, so Faaea, her husband Samuelu and their two young children packed and journeyed by boat to Samoa.
“When I had my check-up in Samoa, they immediately referred me to New Zealand. It became clear at that point that my condition was serious,” said Faaea
At the Auckland Hospital, the medical team discovered that Faaea had a tumour in her brain, which caused her to lose her sight.
“I was very afraid during that time. I asked the doctor if I was going to get my vision back, but he did not make any promises. All I could think of was my young children and my husband. I was devastated, but thinking of them gave me the strength to accept my circumstance.”
While the operation to remove the tumour was successful, Faaea did not recover her sight. She found it difficult to accept her new reality.
“I didn’t want to go for walks. I was afraid because all I could see was darkness. I didn’t want to go anywhere.”
Faaea and Samuelu decided to move to New Zealand permanently for better access to healthcare and medical assistance. However, they struggled financially to make ends meet.
“We received assistance from Work and Income, that was our only income.”
When their family car was damaged, Faaea and Samuelu could not pay for the repairs; this meant Faaea was unable to attend community programmes and church activities, often leaving her isolated at home.
Things changed when Faaea approached Vaka Tautua for assistance in 2014. Pele Lam Sam, the Disability Information Advisory and Support Coordinator took on her case and submitted a referral to the local Needs Assessment and Service Coordination services (NASC) for disability support. She also submitted a request for funded family care, which was approved recently. Pele recommended the Rimoni family apply to the New Zealand Lottery Grant for financial assistance to purchase a vehicle.
Pele recommended, the Rimoni family, apply to the New Zealand Lottery Grant for financial assistance to purchase a vehicle.
“We submitted our referral to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The first time, our application was rejected. But we re-applied again and received a letter just before Christmas that the application was approved with some funding to purchase a new vehicle,” smiles Pele.
Faaea and Samuelu could not have thought of a better Christmas gift. Now, Samuelu can take Faaea to community programmes, including those run by Vaka Tautua and to her medical appointments.
Faaea is thankful to Vaka Tautua for its assistance.
“Vaka Tautua did everything they could to make sure my needs and my family’s needs were met.”
Vaka Tautua is a national Pacific health and social services, provider. We deliver a comprehensive range of community services including disability, older peoples, mental health, financial support, social services and management services.
Please see our website for more information https://www.vakatautua.co.nz/