Rotorua: A walk of hope

Rotorua woman Faustinah Ndlovu on Saturday, July 9, 2016, walked 21 km balancing a 20 litre bucket of water on her head. It took her a total of 3 hours 33 minutes and the walk raised $1100 in total. This was for her Zimbabwe project Tariro (hope), under which she is working with villagers from her home town in Zimbabwe to build a community early childhood development learning centre in the Mawandu village. She had earlier created a four-metre tall knitted doll that weighed over 90 kg to raise money for the same cause.

Faustinah's story - in her own words

My name is Faustinah Ndlovu.  I was born and raised in Zimbabwe. I moved to New Zealand in 2002. I came visiting my niece who now lives in Australia. My son Nelson lived with my mum and dad until he joined me at the age of 12 in 2009. When my son came he did two weeks of primary school and then went to Otorohanga College.  At High school Nelson faced a lot of bullying challenges from other kids at the school. I came across a note in my son’s writing books saying I hate to be the only black person at my school.  I felt that the school did not know how to handle these issues as most of the issues were normalised. On one incident my son was bitten up and had to get the police involved.

I was so involved with my son’s school life and would knock on the headmaster’s office every time when I had concerns in regards to my son’s wellbeing within the school environment. It took a while for us to settle and getting to know the locals and became part of the community. After I got my residence I went and did my Bachelor of Applied Social Social Science AT WINTEC. I lived in Otorohanga for 12 years. I am now a New Zealand citizen.

In 2014 I moved to Christchurch were I lived for two years. Moving from a small community going to a big city was a challenge to me with the earth quakes I struggled living in Christchurch. My long-time friends Brian and Julie encouraged me to move to Rotorua were I am currently living now. Racism, discrimination and work place bullying has been an ongoing issue for me. Unfortunately I had to quit my job in Christchurch because of the high amount of stress that was mounting because of work place bullying, racism and harassment. This was a very challenging for me as I did my best to be positive hoping that things will change only to end up leaving my position an injury because of unresolved workplace harassment by Staff and management and did not safe to continue working for that organisation. As immigrants it is also challenging to get jobs and when you get one you try your best to be the best you can be and sometimes have to put up with some of the worst.

I would like to encourage immigrant parents to be well involved in all areas their kids and encourage them to be the best they can be. Although my son’s situation took a long time to settle he knew that I was always there support him and stand up for him. I didn’t give up going to school to voice my concerns in regards to any incidents and issues.

Despite the challenges we had faced as immigrants we have been also blessed to have been well supported especial from the Otorohanga community. With the combination of my son’s determination and good community support Nelson represented Otorohanga at Regional and national level and is still being support with the Otorohanga community although he is now living in Hamilton where is he doing his Last year at Waikato University studying science

I think many immigrants face isolation, racism, lack of understanding of cultural context of immigration communities within the schools, work places and health system. Discrimination and racism in immigrant’s communities may lead to mental distress and could lead to feelings of isolation, fear, intimidation, low self-esteem.