Sam's* story

Man opening curtains

“Navigate helped me to tear down my curtains, as I like to say, to get to the bottom of problems and then rebuild. I’ve established a connection to my roots, to my culture, which has helped me to feel part of something bigger.” - Sam*, Tu Ora

“I was one of the first Tu Ora to enter the Navigate Initiative in October 2018, and the first one to leave prison in January 2019. It’s been a bit over a month since I started my new life outside the wire and I haven’t felt alone since, thanks to the Pathway people.” 

“I have a weekly meeting I attend provided by the Drug Arm Support Group. Luke from Pathway is helping me find a job. And if I’m feeling down, I can always call someone from Pathway and they’ll listen. These people are my friends, they don’t judge me and they won’t let me down. I know I can trust them to stick with me, they won’t just drop me. I feel like I matter as a person. 

I’m really starting to enjoy the weekly meetings, I’ve been to my fair share of rehab meetings being an alcoholic, but this time it feels different. It feels like an honesty-box in there, everyone can say how they are genuinely feeling and what they have been up to. No one is pretending or judging, we’ve all been through similar things and we’re trying to understand and help each other out. It’s just pure honesty and everyone is happy to be there, we’re all in the same boat. I even feel like I might be able to find a friend among this group in the future. 

When I was released, I felt better prepared for what was to come due to the preparation within the Navigate Initiative (NI). There was less pressure and nervousness, I was generally more comfortable with going out into the world and starting my life. Navigate helped me to tear down my curtains, as I like to say, to get to the bottom of problems and then rebuild. I’ve established a connection to my roots, to my culture, which has helped me to feel part of something bigger.

Pathway helped me to get some accommodation for the first three months. Thanks to them I have already started working at a new job and we’re now looking to find me my own home. I’m looking forward to that since I’ve never called a place home before. I was always travelling for my chef job sometimes not even remembering the country I was in. Now I just want to live a simple life with my own little place and a job. Without Pathway and the NI I wouldn’t have had enough support. I wouldn’t have been strong enough to do all this by myself. But today I can honestly say, I know what I’m in for. I’ve gained confidence and more self-awareness. I know my triggers and what stressful situations are and I can try to de-escalate them. I’ve also gained stability through learning a daily routine that I am now trying to implement. I’ve learnt to say no and to go back to people I previously had arguments with and sincerely apologise. I’ve come to realise that these interactions can lead to wonderful friendships. I don’t need to feel hurt and be in a bad place because of a fall out with a friend, but rather if I accept my responsibility and go back and talk it over with that person, I don’t feel hindered anymore.

I spent my time in jail learning, it gave me focus. There is so much more I would like to learn especially when it comes to literacy and numeracy or being computer savvy. 

Some days I reflect on what I’ve learnt during my time in the Navigate Unit and I wish I could go back to some of their classes to learn even more, to listen even more carefully and ask more questions.

I attended various classes, from art and fitness to poetry and restorative justice. The Tu Ora Navigators suggested that I write a journal during that period of growth and I‘m now very grateful I did. You can only absorb so much information in one class, because there are so many powerful life lessons that are hard to comprehend all at once and then adjust them to fit into your life. Now I can scroll through my journal and discover advice that I missed the first time.

My two Tu Ora Navigators, did an awesome job. And believe me they didn’t just help out the nice, easy guys - they helped anyone who was willing to change. Even if you had a slip-up they wouldn’t give up on you. I take my hat off to them and am profoundly grateful for their help.

One piece of advice I have for someone going through the same process is: you gotta want to change, to learn, to grow. Some stresses will always be there, it’ll be hard and it’ll be frustrating at times - you won’t change overnight. Listen to as much as you can during your time in the Navigate Initiative. The change will come along the way with the choices you have made.” 

– Sam*, Tu Ora.

*name has been changed

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