Growing up as a teenager in Otara I felt lost. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. My mates were into sex, drugs, robberies, burglaries and violence. I wanted to be like them. I thought I was tough with them around.
After getting into trouble with the police I knew I needed to change my life. I had a desire to help and mentor other young people that were living a similar life in Otara. I knew that there were people praying for me and wanting me to lead a better life. I joined a church youth group, gradually becoming a youth leader.
For the last couple of years I have been volunteering at the Tupu Youth Library, Boys Club. This is a club that has been running for the past 10 years. I am part of a leadership team who work with the boys aged 12-21. Our aim is for the boys to learn life skills, leadership and to be empowered. All of this in a safe space.
Last term we focused on ‘How to be a gentleman’. We celebrated with a progressive dinner. All the boys dressed up and we had three courses at three different places, including the main meal at a restaurant. This allowed them to put their skills into action.
The boys club has developed a legacy of its own, with boys who used to attend now leading the group, and many others showing leadership in their own families and careers.