| Duresi's Odyssey
AUCKLAND - Time flies ae? I just realised I got on a plane around this time three years ago to come to New Zealand and start a journey of a lifetime.
It was a bittersweet trip – my marriage had just ended, I had been accepted to do a PhD at the University of Auckland, I had successfully secured a NZ scholarship for the entire PhD program, and I was leaving my beloved child behind.
I have to give myself credit for keeping it together when I said goodbye to my family – I did not shed a tear. I had a huge smile the entire time.
My mum did a traditional song/chant/weeping sorrowful tune to farewell me; her words basically saying how it was OK to be leaving all the heartache behind and to go far away to another man’s land to get the highest form of education that would help me raise my child - and that they were all proud.
Not sure how I kept it together that time. Dad on the other hand, held my hand and prayed for me before releasing me to go knock my big dreams out of the park with God’s guidance.
Once in the departure lounge, I found a deserted corner and cried for a good 20 minutes.
It was as if the tears had reached a maximum threshold and just had to flow. I remember a random white guy walked over to me and told me, “Do you know Jesus loves you?” to which I nodded my head and he continued, “You’ll be right, mate” and walked away.
Ah, Aussie, I thought as I got up and walked to the bathroom. I cried some more in there before the cleaning lady came in and asked me if I was OK. I nodded and I looked in the mirror and willed myself to get a grip.
She offered me some comforting words, “Pikinini noken wari. Em save olsem. Firstpla taim blo lusim ples, em planti save wari na karai olsem. Bai yu orait” [Child, don’t worry. The first time people leave, many are anxious and weep. You’ll be OK”].
I managed to say thanks to her but didn’t explain it wasn’t my first time to leave home. I just let her believe that was why I was bawling my eyes out. I got a grip on myself and I walked out.
Soon it was time to board the plane. Surprisingly no tears as the plane taxied out. I remember repeating in my head, “You said goodbye; you cried; you let it go. Now you get a chance to start a new chapter of your life”.
Amazing how self-talk actually works! As the plane circled over Gerehu and back past the University of PNG, I saw all the familiar landmarks – my child at school and how she’d be heartbroken when she returned home that afternoon; my mum probably crying while watching the big plane pass over the house. I smiled. I got this – for us.
ALTHOUGH I really missed my child and family, Auckland was second home to me so it was easy to settle in.
I sought professional help for the depression. I was able to process my feelings in a positive space and deal with the divorce and start the healing process.
It has been a long journey but one that needed to happen for me to come out stronger than ever.
My daughter joined me three months after I arrived in New Zealand. My younger brother paid his own expenses just to accompany her and bring her to me. I am forever indebted to him, and my four other siblings.
I could never have done all this without their support. They’ve always had my back, together with our parents.
During my divorce and after I have seen these amazing people rally behind my healing and continue to fill in the gaps for my child and me.
It definitely takes a village to raise a child! I’m that child! God bless them all a thousand fold!
IT’S YEAR three of my PhD – it’s been quite the journey. Dealing with Covid-19 and the four-month lockdown in New Zealand was hard.
For laboratory-based research, getting to the lab during that time was not possible. With God’s grace, I’m able to work smart and made up the lost time.
I’ve also been able to work as a contract tutor teaching Pharmacology and Biochemistry at a local college, as well as various part-time roles at the university.
This has been a blessing for my child and me financially as well as great experience for future roles in academia.
My 13-year old is in Year 10 now! High School! She has made quite a mark for herself – taking the 2020 Year 9 Academic Excellence in Science award for her school, and has been learning to play the cello and to learn Japanese since the beginning of last year.
I am just glowing with so much love and pride for her – dealing with parents’ divorce at her age and then moving away from familiarity to start all over was hard for her. She has taught me what resilience means.
We haven’t gone back home for holidays due to Covid-19, and we won’t return until I complete my studies. We definitely miss family but the thought that the journey is halfway over keeps our spirits high knowing we have not long to go now.
Much arohas, dubobari matawa and love to everyone who has reached out to my daughter and I to check on us and to make sure we are OK since we’ve been here. God bless you all!