Beyond caring: A life of service
Arii, 56, had never met the person knocking on her door eight years ago. A 70 year old Australian woman came to her house, asking for help.
“She needed a place to stay and wanted to see her family doctor.”
“She said she was being abused by her husband and nobody would listen to her, not at the hospital, the doctor’s practice or the Police. So I helped her.”
Arii is from Cook Islands. She is a natural born leader. And she is also a carer.
She was a full-time carer for both her husband and her eldest son in 2004. Her husband passed away in 2017, and her son, who has schizophrenia, is 35 years old now, and has gained more independence.
She now cares for her 26 year old son, also diagnosed with schizophrenia. She helps him with medications, doctor’s appointments, cooking, cleaning and washing.
“I teach them both to take care of themselves. I work with them so they can learn and also keep them occupied instead of having them sitting around the house.”
Arii and her family came to Australia back in 1997 “to see a different life.”
“At first, I was lost,” she says.
“It took me a while to get used to it. It was a whole new life. Then I started working a lot. I did a few cleaning jobs, but I wasn’t really spending time with my children. They were in bed when I left and when I came back
home every day.”
Arii stopped working when she became a carer. Her family has always been a priority for her.
In the year 2000 she started volunteering at Woodridge High School teaching Cultural Dancing.
“I was the first person to promote the Cook Islands’ culture with the students and I still do it today. It makes me very happy and it helps me maintain my culture.”
Helping other people is her secret to happiness.
“In my spare time I also volunteer helping other people. I do this every day. I support them by taking them to Centrelink or anywhere they need to go. It depends on their needs. I help them connect to other organisations
and the community.”
Arii found the right support after joining Carers Queensland’s Cultural and Linguistic Diversity (CALD) program more than 10 years ago.
She attends her local Carer Support Group every month and speaks to her Family Carer Support Officer every time she needs help.
“I have made really good friends at my support group. I also bring new people into the group. I tell them Carers Queensland is the best place to seek for help. They’ve been very supportive with my family.”
She is now a leader for her local community in the Springwood area.
“I’ve learned a lot from that. I don’t only work with people from Cook Islands. Some of them are Australians or from New Zealand. I basically help them because they don’t know what to do with themselves. They just turn
up, ask for help and I help them out.”
It’s been like that for over eight years now and it started with the woman who knocked on her door that day.
“She still says God sent her to my house. I helped her find short-term accommodation and medical assistance and she is very grateful for that. I don’t look for people. They come to me.”
For more information on how to access the CALD program contact us on 1800 242 636.
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