In an unprecedented year that has brought its share of unique challenges for so many of us, it’s uplifting to hear how Christmas 2020 is looking to be a vast improvement on Christmas 2019 for one young PARS tangata (client).
Nomi wasn’t a bad kid. By his own admission, he was ‘a bit naughty’ at school; wagging a little and getting into some mischief. Nothing out of the ordinary for many a teenage boy. But as is too often the way, drugs came on the scene and things headed downhill fast. Nomi had left school and was doing some warehouse work on and off, when a he met a guy who offered him drugs for the first time. Nomi thought it would be no big deal, so why not give it a go. What harm could it do?
But with devastating timing, the loss of his mum made Nomi particularly vulnerable and he started to rely on drugs. He was struggling to cope, and when he made one bad decision too many, Nomi found himself inside the youth unit at Mt Eden Corrections facility facing a potential sentence of up to three years’ imprisonment. His disappointed family declined to bail him out, thinking that the time to reflect would do him good. And they were right.
Being locked inside for 23 hours a day gave Nomi plenty of time to think. He says it was a really good chance to reset as he watched last Christmas and his 20th birthday came and go from behind bars. Turning 20 meant a transfer to the adult prison – a truly sobering experience – and Nomi knew he had to start taking responsibility for his own decisions and actions. He took literacy and numeracy classes in prison – something he was never interested in at school – and is grateful to have had a good teacher who kept him interested. After five months, Nomi’s sister arranged his bail, and PARS stepped in to support him in reintegrating back into the community while he awaited his sentencing.
Nomi has deep respect for PARS and is inspired by his support worker who, along with helping him with day-to-day practicalities like preparing for work and signing on with a job agency, also helped him rebuild his relationship with his whanau. She was by his side when he went back to court recently, and receiving a sentence that doesn’t involve going back behind bars has been the highlight of Nomi’s year. Most importantly Nomi says, his PARS support worker motivated him to believe in himself and that a better life can be a reality for him. It has been a humbling experience, but he can now look forward with enthusiasm; focusing on finding full-time work and getting himself physically and mentally healthy.
Nomi’s support worker is equally optimistic for his future, sharing that Nomi is a bright young man whose wairua lights up the room and provides inspiration to his peers. She says he has shown himself to be dedicated and resilient, and he is now putting whanau first. “It has been an honour to walk beside Nomi through this stage in his journey and I look forward to seeing him achieve his dreams and make his mark on the world.”