Original story written by Meriana Johnson of The Spinoff: Read here
Most mandates may be about to be dropped, but with omicron sweeping the country, many unvaccinated Māori are making the decision to get protected for their whānau – even some who were once vehemently opposed.
Every day, families across the country are losing loved ones to the virus. This hit a peak on Tuesday of 34 deaths. The numbers of Māori hospitalised is on the rise, as reported by the director general of health Ashley Bloomfield on March 24. In that same week, Māori also made up the majority of community cases, with the highest number of cases per capita for Māori in Tairāwhiti.
But there is a much smaller, but by no means less significant, number being reported daily. The number of first doses administered. Over a year on from the start of vaccination rollout (although only eight months on from when everyone eligible could receive it), some are now making the decision to get vaccinated – the majority of those Māori.
In fact, tangata whenua made up two-thirds of all the first doses administered in the two-week period of March 14-30 (3,022 in total), with 2,043 Māori receiving their first vaccine.
Māori health providers, such as Te Hau Ora o Ngāpuhi in Kaikohe and Tūranga Health in Gisborne, are a big part of driving this uptake.
In Tairāwahiti, where first-dose vaccination coverage has reached 91%, Gisborne Māori health provider Tūranga Heath is continuing to run community clinics.
Tūranga Health chief executive Reweti Ropiha says they largely get whānau and rangatahi coming in for their second vaccine, but 15-20 people have come in for their first dose in the last fortnight.
He says most of them are coming through as couples, and he says their driver for finally getting vaccinated is the anxiety.
One couple he spoke with were originally strongly anti-vax but they’d seen the impacts on their whānau, and were concerned about their mokopuna with asthma contracting the virus.
“It put a smile on my dial that even over the duration of this hīkoi, this journey, their consideration was still about stepping forth [to get vaccinated], ” Ropiha says.
At this stage in the rollout, Ropiha is focused on going to people, literally bringing the vaccine to their doorstep, as he says whānau feel more comfortable doing it in their own backyard.
“A lot of the whānau enjoyed having a Māori kaimahi there so they can also have a kōrero, particularly around the timeframes, like the stand-down times [for their second dose] if they get Covid”.
Māori health providers continue to be innovative in getting their people vaccinated. Through whānau networks, they are continuing to push to get as many Māori vaccinated as possible.
A recent success for Te Hau Ora o Ngā Puhi was vaccinating 100 people through the Whakaoranga Whānau Recovery Hub, a methamphetamine rehabilitation programme. Following a hui held with those recovering through the programme and their whānau, 70% of those who attended decided to get the vaccine.
The mandates might be dropping, but for Reweti Ropiha at Tūranga Health that doesn’t mean he’ll be ending community vaccination clinics. He says the focus now is lifting rangatahi Covid-19 vaccination rates, and then, getting people vaccinated against the flu.
Te Hau Ora o Ngāpuhi Covid response lead Tia Ashby says in the town of Kaikohe, there is increased anxiety because of the current outbreak in the community.
“They’ve witnessed some of their own family having severe symptoms and ending up in hospital, and now because it is something they can see, it’s tangible, it’s encouraged them to go and get vaccinated to protect those who are most vulnerable, like their kuia and kaumātua that they want to go visit at the marae, and their children,” says Ashby.
“For others, it’s about finally getting the right information because they had a lot of information overload and they said the anti-mandate, anti-vax stuff was starting to confuse them… they already have a lot of distrust of the government surrounding their experiences of Oranga Tamariki, with MSD, [and] some of the information coming in – they didn’t know who to listen to.”
In the last fortnight, Ashby says roughly 80-100 whānau have come through for their first dose of the vaccine.
It’s a tough pill to swallow for some who’ve been fervently against the vaccine, and Ashby has received a handful of phone calls from whānau who’ve asked if she’ll go directly to the house of one of their loved ones who is too whakamā to go in after speaking out so vocally.
One of these people, Ashby says, was someone who had abused her and her team, including throwing things at them, when they were out doing a vaccination drive. Charges could have been laid but Ashby says “they aren’t like that”, and when they finally asked her for the vaccine she was happy for them.
“We knew that health literacy hadn’t been addressed, and it would have been unfair to put our own bias onto their thinking.
“We just wanted a chance to be able to sit down and have a kōrero with them like this, but I think at the time they were heavily influenced by information around them and a lot of that turned to hate and anger because of the mandates.”
Kuini Daniels is a Kaikohe nurse who says while she knew of the benefits of vaccination, and had received child vaccines like meningococcal, she was still hesitant about getting the Covid-19 vaccine.
She says she felt torn between her professional judgement and her Māori side; her culture, beliefs, kawa and tikanga, and the strong resistance from her people to Crown-imposed action.
However, there was a lot of guilt in not being able to support her kaimahi on the frontline, she says, so she finally decided to get vaccinated a couple of days after the mandate for health workers came in. She says while there were options for doing administrative work, working on the frontline was what she loved, and getting vaccinated allowed her to get back out there.
A LACK of good gear is seen as being a big barrier to participation in sport, so a Tairawhiti health organisation is helping to bust those barriers down.
Turanga Health in December oversaw the unveiling of new basketball hoops and backboards at Te Karaka Area, Gisborne Girls' High and Gisborne Boys' High schools, adding to those already installed at the city's Cobham and Elgin schools.
They are all part of the joint Hoops In Schools programme, co-run in the region by Basketball New Zealand and Turanga Health, and funded by Turanga Health.
And the latest hoops got a big christening with towering Tall Blacks legend Pero Cameron and Tall Fern guard Lauryn Hippolite in town to mark the occasion, taking students through their paces while they were at it.
The Tairawhiti Hoops In Schools project was founded in 2020 when Turanga Health told Basketball NZ that Cobham kids were using a bottomless bucket for a basketball hoop . . . and even that was an improvement on how they used to play “air” shots.
Turanga Health events co-ordinator Dallas Poi says it is a massive addition to the promotion of wellbeing through the sport, which has long been part of Turanga Health's programme.
Basketball is the second most popular sport for all secondary school-aged children, an age when participation in sport tends to drop away. Of the seven biggest sports in schools (football, netball, rugby, volleyball, hockey, cricket and basketball), it is one of only two to show growth in the last five years, and is on track to become the most popular of all secondary school sports.
“Basketball is such a big sport for Maori and is a great way to get tamariki and rangatahi active,” Dallas says.
Having Pero on court brought his experience not just around achieving big things in international sport, but also in making his way in the world with real mana, she added.
“We've always seen basketball as a great way to engage rangatahi in particular, and you don't get any bigger than Pero Cameron!”
Together with other Turanga Health kaiawhina, Luke Bradley delivers the programme to young people at kura throughout the region, as well as supporting Gisborne Basketball Association events.
“There is so much benefit to be gained in everything from physical fitness to developing leadership skills, so it is really rewarding work,” Luke says.
“While we do see some amazing raw talent and flair out there, we're not really looking for superstars. We're looking at improving engagement by catering for all skill levels, so all our young people can stay active and be part of the game.”
Pero Cameron says basketball is a fantastic way to reconnect with young people who have missed out on so much over the nearly two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, and Luke agrees.
“In recent times it has seemed that, every time we got a groove going with the young people in schools, a lockdown came and they didn't get to take part,” he says.
“That's why it was so great to have Pero and Lauryn here to see the year out. Through basketball, we were able to re-engage with tamariki and rangatahi and it was nice to get out there and see their smiles again.”
Getting behind the Covid-19 vaccine drive is a big message and Turanga Health has brought in a big man to help deliver it.
The Tairawhiti health organisation is this week hosting New Zealand basketball great Pero Cameron and he's taking a double-play approach to his visit.
Today and tomorrow he and Tall Ferns guard Lauryn Hippolite are spending time at Gisborne and rural schools to support the Turanga Health/Basketball New Zealand programme Hoops In Schools.
Then, on Saturday, Cameron will visit Turanga Health's pop-up clinic at Blackpool Park at 10am to 11.30am to help support the vaccination programme.
At two metres tall, the former Tall Black and now Tall Blacks coach will be hard to miss.
“It's not often you see a size 17 shoe wandering around our clinics so Pero will bring a big presence to that space,” Turanga Health events co-ordinator Dallas Poi says.
“He brings so much experience, not just around achieving big things in international sport, but also on making his way in the world with real mana.
“We've always seen basketball as a great way to engage rangatahi in particular, and you don't get any bigger than Pero Cameron!”
For Cameron, basketball was a way to reconnect with young people who had missed out on so much over the nearly two years of the pandemic.
“It's the same with the vaccine,” he said. “We are an active people so, apart from saving lives, it is a way to reclaim our freedoms, to be together and enjoy the things we are passionate about.”
Widely seen as the greatest international basketballer New Zealand has produced, Cameron played for the Tall Blacks a record 227 times (1993-2010) — 170 as captain — was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to basketball, and in 2017 became the first New Zealander inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame.
For 14 years he lived on Australia's Gold Coast, commuting to fulfil his roles as Tall Blacks assistant coach (2011-2019) and interim head coach (2019-2021).
But in October he returned to New Zealand to be full-time head coach of the Tall Blacks, who he plans to lead to the 2023 FIBA World Cup and the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
Cameron has also taken on the role of basketball director for the Taranaki Steelformers Mountain Airs, allowing him to reconnect with former Turanga Health senior staffer and Rising Suns legend Dwayne “Tama” Tamatea, who relocated to Taranaki last year.
“Aotearoa is a small country and the world of basketball is even smaller, so it's no surprise those two are good friends,” Poi says.
“During Pero's visit, Tama will be taking him around the schools and clinic so it will be great to have our old friend back with us . . . if only for a short while.”
The Blackpool Park pop-up already has a point of difference in that the park has tracks running through it, so the Tu Mai collective is able to bring in the Wa165 steam train for a bit of whānau fun.
Turanga Health's other weekend clinics are all from 10am to 2pm on Sunday and include the drive-through at Harry Barker Reserve; the Waikohu clinic at Currie Place (Te Karaka), and the drive-through at Patutahi Hall.
AT 11.01am on November 18 a big cheer went up at Tūranga Health, and that wasn't just because the Prime Minister was in the whare.
The team just learned that Tairāwhiti's first-dose Covid-19 vaccination rates had ticked over to 84 percent . . . a step closer to the 90 percent target.
Ms Ardern said she, Associate Minister for Health Peeni Henare, East Coast MP Kiri Allan and Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri had returned to the region to help boost the numbers of whānau receiving the Covid-19 vaccination, and to acknowledge all the hard mahi that had gone on in te Tairāwhiti.
“What you (Tūranga Health) bring is not just local knowledge and experience, but also the emotion. You bring that because this is your region, your people, that you are talking about.
“I am back here today because Tairāwhiti is one of those areas where the work being done is so important, and we are so grateful for all you are doing.”
The Prime Minister wanted to see 90 percent vaccination across the country but on the day of her visit to Gisborne, only 84 percent of the region's population had received their first dose, while 72 percent had their second.
With only 2588 first jabs required to reach 90 percent, Ms Ardern said the region was so close, “we just have to keep going”.
Whatever happened, the unvaccinated in the community also deserved protection and that was why the country was moving to the traffic light system, Ms Ardern added.
The traffic light system offers more layers of protection but opens up the border to Covid-affected areas north of Gisborne and experts say that could have devastating effect, especially for Maori, who already make up around half of active cases.
And with tamariki aged 11 and under not yet able to be vaccinated, low vaccination rates in their communities mean they are most at risk of both contracting and spreading the virus.
Tūranga Health chief executive Reweti Ropiha says that's just one of the reasons why his organisation is working so hard to boost vaccination rates.
Tūranga Health's vaccine engine room fired up in March and they haven't stopped since, Mr Ropiha told the visiting Ministers.
The Tūranga Health approach to Covid-19 reflects on the lessons of yesterday and looks at the mahi of today to inform what we do in the future, Mr Ropiha said.
“In absolutely everything we do, our focus is not just on today, but on the generations of tomorrow.”
WHEN Bobbie Cameron joined Tūranga Health she hit the ground running, but not in the direction she thought she would go.
With a solid history in nursing and health management, the new Transformational Lead in the Whare took on responsibility for anything that might touch whānau in their homes, including oversight of Waikohu Medical Centre. However, having started in March 2021, she was immediately thrown into helping organise the Māori health organisation's roll-out of Covid-19 vaccinations.
While the immediate focus was on whānau health and safety, the arrival of the Delta variant of Covid-19 increased the risk, and as the government aimed to see 90 percent of Aotearoa's population fully vaccinated, the workload increased.
Tūranga Health has been a major part of the vaccine drive in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa, from training local vaccinators to holding clinics in halls and marae across rural townships. And its drive-through services have also had a big impact . . . in one week its drivethrough clinic at Harry Barker Reserve vaccinated more than 1200 whānau.
That mahi has been a big contributor to the vaccination rate in te Tairāwhiti which, as at October 18, stood at 55,252 total doses, with 73.9 percent of locals having received at least one dose and nearly 60 percent the two required for full vaccination.
However, the rate is slightly lower for Māori – by October 18 just over 62 percent of whānau had received their first shot while nearly 45 percent were fully vaccinated. Bobbie says that means the work has intensified, and there's lots more to do.
“At the start of the roll-out we were mainly dealing with whānau who were keen to get vaccinated,” she says. “Now we are trying to connect with those who might be sitting on the fence, and that's a bit tougher.”
To reach whānau we're going into workplaces, schools, rural settings, marae... anywhere we can make connections. "We want to see whānau and communities protected. We'll do whatever it takes to reach them."
Back where she belongs
HE Covid-19 vaccine drive has been an important – and complex – process that Tūranga Health's Bobbie Cameron says she feels privileged to be part of.
But she was looking forward to getting stuck into some big pieces of work in other areas she was passionate about . . . great health outcomes for Māori, particularly through providing rural health services. It's a passion that has driven Bobbie for the more than 20 years since she decided to devote herself to working in health.
Though she is of Ngā Ariki Kaiputahi and Te Aitanga-aMāhaki descent, Bobbie – already mum to three young children – was living in Hawke's Bay in 2000 when the then 19-year-old decided to train as a nurse.
By the time she graduated with Bachelors, Postgraduate and Masters degrees, she and her husband had been blessed with three more tamariki, but also suffered losses that only strengthened her resolve to focus on Māori health. “My biggest motivation has always been the pain of seeing whānau in our communities dying before their time,” she says.
“My own father-in-law was only 58 when he died of a massive heart attack, and that was after he had been to tell his doctor that he was suffering from chest pain. “If he had been looked after, rather than just sent home, we could still have him today. So, my focus is on helping prevent those situations from occurring . . . on ensuring our whānau get the care they need and empowering them to self-manage and take control of their health.”
As part of executive management team, a large portion of Bobbie's role is to support the clinicians – the doctors and nurses who work with Tūranga Health – in doing and being the best they can. The Waikohu Medical Centre has been run by Tūranga Health since 2011 and covers the area from the Gisborne side of the Kaitaratahi Bridge, across to the top end of Lavenham Road, and out to Whatatutu, Motu and Matawai.
Not only does this new role bring her closer to her own iwi, Bobbie and whānau were able to find a home near family land at Whatatutu, just down the road from the Waikohu Medical Centre. “This is really the first opportunity I have had to serve my own people and, I have to say, it feels incredible.”
Tūranga Health in partnership with Hauora Tairāwhiti, Te Runanga o Tūranganui A Kiwa, Toitū Tairāwhiti and Trust Tairāwhiti are set to launch a Drive Through Vaccination Centre.
The drive through will open to the community Wednesday 1 September and will assist parents of young children, elderly and those with medical dependencies to receive their vaccinations.
The drive through will operate from Harry Barker Reserve using the main entrance located on Gladstone Road. The centre is open 10am-4pm and run for at least seven days or until Alert Level 2 has been achieved.
Tūranga Health CEO Reweti Ropiha said “we are excited to have been able to pull this operation together over the past fourdays. My staff have put in the hard yards to be able to drive this kaupapa, to turn this site on and provide for our community.”
Whānau must be ready for their journey through the vaccination site. It is important to note that entry is from Gladstone Road only, make sure you use the toilet before you come, bring your whānau and your masks with you, ensure that the kids have snacks and games to keep them entertained for the whole time including the 15 minute observation period after vaccination. Please stay in your vehicle at all times, and ensure you wear appropriate clothing so we can access your upper arm easily.
We will accept cars or 8-seater people movers only. No motorbikes or people on foot. No appointment required – just drive in.
The centre is organised into three separate zones. Zone 1: drivers stop to get registered. Zone 2: get the vaccine administered. Zone 3: wait and be observed for 15 minutes before leaving.
If people are feeling unwell during their observation period, they should toot their car horn and turn on their hazard lights.
The drive through centre requires 40 staff per day. An instructional video has been produced to give users insight to the operation – visit the Hauora Tairāwhiti Facebook Page.
Turanga Health Covid-19 nurses and kaiawhina (assistants) noticed a surge in people wanting to be vaccinated yesterday afternoon just hours before the country went into a snap lockdown.
Local iwi health providers Turanga Health and Ngati Porou Hauora, supported by Hauora Tairawhiti and Toitu Tairawhiti Collective, joined forces this week to open whanau vaccination centres around the region.
Appointments were not necessary in the walk-in clinics that were set up in rural areas such as Whatatutu and city venues at Gisborne Hospital, the Palmerston Road Community Vaccination Clinic, Kaiti and Elgin.
Turanga Health chief executive Reweti Ropiha said there was a surge of people wanting to be vaccinated at the Cobham School vaccination centre in Elgin yesterday afternoon.
“It's possible that yesterday afternoon's Ministry of Health announcement that a community case of Covid-19 had been identified was an incentive,” Mr Ropiha said.
Sixteen people were vaccinated at Cobham School on Monday. That rose to 47 between 4pm and 7pm on Tuesday.
The Prime Minister's Alert Level 4 announcement was made just after 6pm.
Covid-19 vaccinations are on hold today and tomorrow with the situation under constant reassessment.
“There is a high level of reaction but the good thing is we have plenty of learnings from the previous lockdowns,” Mr Ropiha said.
“However, after this lockdown, there is a very high chance that we will see greater demand for the vaccine.”
Turanga Health is considered an essential service during the lockdown.
Face-to-face consultations are being kept to a minimum, with video and audio consultations available where required.
The Vanessa Lowndes Centre for people with mental, physical or intellectual disabilities is closed for the next three days.
During the lockdown, Turanga Health has suspended its other health and wellbeing programmes for the week including the Eke Tu wrap-around programme for people with chronic health conditions (Te Karaka, Manutuke and Gisborne), the ki-o-rahi in schools programme and the kaumatua ukelele gathering in Elgin.
A DEEPENING friendship between a Turanga Health kaiāwhina and a Manutuke whānau is helping the oldest and most unwell member of the family to laugh again.
Anita Nepia, Rongowhakaata, Ngati Porou, is rediscovering the joys of a social life outside of her Manutuke home this year with the wraparound support of Turanga Health mental health kaiāwhina Nyoka Fox.
Anita, 64, has been living with schizophrenia for 30 years. Like many others with the disease Anita experiences some challenges caring for herself, and she hasn’t worked for a number of years. Anita has been lucky to always have the support of family and friends. She lives with sister Katy Nepia, and her nephew Terry Nepia.
But recently whānau have noticed that Anita, who is a wahine of few words, had become even quieter than normal.
“Anita was staying home, lying around,” says Terry, 27. “She was quiet and not laughing as much.”
Māori health organisation Turanga Health was already involved in Anita’s care but asked if they could do more? And that’s where mental health kaiāwhina Nyoka Fox came in.
“It wasn’t until Nyoka arrived that I started noticing a difference in her,” says Terry.
Previously, Nyoka, Rongowhakaata, was a kaiāwhina and then coordinator at the Vanessa Lowndes Centre providing day programmes for people living with mental health, physical and intellectual disabilities.
A wahine of many talents (she used to be a driver operator for Downer) Noyka has a level 4 certifcate in health and wellbeing with a strand in mental health and addiction support from EIT Tairāwhiti.
Nyoka first met Anita at her Manutuke home in March 2021. “When I first connected with Anita she was isolated. She wasn’t going out anywhere so the goal at the start was simply to create a relationship.”
Nyoka shared her own Rongowhakaata whakapapa with Anita making those vital whānau and hapu connections. Slowly, quietly spoken Anita began to trust that Nyoka was offering genuine support and help. “After that she’s really opened up more,” says Nyoka.
The pair’s friendship has strengthened over time spent together. They are in the car a lot as they travel to doctor’s appointments and the monthly Turanga Health Kaumātua Programme. They also go out for lunch if they feel like having a treat.
“She’s a lot smilier now,” says Nyoka. “A bit more talkative. She’s not as shy or holding back. There has definitely been a change. It’s about having someone to walk beside, someone who doesn’t necessarily have to be family.”
Laughter is important in the pair’s relationship. Catch them together and they’ll often be chuckling. “I think they might be laughing at me?” worries Terry. “No. No. That’s our secret,” Anita whispers, before falling into another fit of giggles.
Last month Nyoka helped Anita get her Covid-19 vaccination. And she escorted her to the Howard Morrison Quartet concert for pakeke from around the rohe.
This week Nyoka is going to teach Anita how to answer her new cellphone and enrol her into a local arts and craft programme.
Nyoka: “It’s important for Anita’s wellbeing that she’s connected to the scoial community, and to whānau.”
Despite her quiet nature, Anita’s admiration for Nyoka is unmistakable.
“We’ve got our own thing happening. Riding around. I would just like to thank Nyoka for everything she has done for me.”
Local iwi health providers Turanga Health and Ngati Porou Hauora, supported by Hauora Tairawhiti and Toitu Tairawhiti Collective, have joined forces to ensure local Maori whanau have every opportunity to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
The health providers open their whanau vaccination venues on Monday.
No appointment is needed.
A whanau approach is nothing new for Maori.
“We are now taking on this approach as a method to address vaccine hesitancy,” said Turanga Health chief executive Reweti Ropiha.
The message from iwi providers is “come along with the whanau and get to sense the great vaccine experience, demystify the Covid jargon, korero with whanau in the vaccine space, put the patai (questions) to the kaimahi (staff) experts and do it all within an atmosphere of manaaki (hospitality) and awhi (support)”.
Kaniwa Kupenga-Tamarama, a Maori midwife who is five months hapu (pregnant), and is expecting her fifth baby, received her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine last week.
She encourages all whanau especially hapu mama (expectant mums) to do the same.
Kaniwa and her children are the faces of the whanau approach with the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out.
To see more of Kaniwa's story and to see how to be vaccinated, visit www.Hauoratairawhiti.org.nz
WITH his wife in labour, Coxco business manager Yugal Gupta popped away from Gisborne Hospital and smoked a cigarette vowing it would be his last.
Ninety minutes later he and wife Sadaf welcomed beautiful Tianna into the world and ever since then Yugal has been true to his word.
“I’m not going to smoke anymore, it’s over for me.”
Yugal, 35, is Coxco labour solutions business manager, and he’s been smoking for six years.
An entertaining guy with a wicked turn of prhase Yugal admits the birth of his daughter led to some funny moments.
“No lie. My wife looks up to me and says ‘I’m in hospital, I’m dilating, you’re still smoking. When are you going to quit!?’”
Yugal says his nicotine addiction crept up on him. What started out as idle curiosity about the taste of a cigarette turned into an all encompassing addiction which at its worst cost Yugal $210 a week.
Luckily for Yugal, Gisborne’s Coxco Farming and Horticulture, has been part of Turanga Health’s Tū Mahi Workplace Wellness programme for seven years ensuring its hardworking staff have access to on-the-job health checks. Turanga Health quit smoking coaches are also available for Coxco staff but for Yugal, his first few attempts to quit had failed.
After Tianna was born the new dad reached back out to Turanga Health quit coach Walter Walsh and asked for help.
“I had been strong since my baby was born but I knew I would be vulnerable when I went back to work and I needed a bit of extra support.”
Walter, or Wiz as everyone knows him, is 26-years smokefree himself. He’d met Yugal before, helped him find incentives to quit, but nothing had stuck. Wiz says he could tell this time was different.
“I could see the drive was his newborn.” Wiz asked Yugal to blow into a smokerlyzer machine and it revealed that Yugal had no carbon monoxide on his breath. “That confirmed it. I could see he was smokefree and now we needed to keep it that way.”
Wiz says meeting Yugal “kanohi-ki-te-kanohi or face to face” meant the men could talk and make a plan. “I could help get him through the next few weeks.”
Wiz organised smokefree gum and lozenges to help with the nicotine withdrawl, and watched on with pride as the new dad pushed through his addiction. “I knew I was strong enough in my head to quit,” adds Yugal.
Since quitting four months ago Yugal takes takes some of the weekly money he normally spent on cigarettes and deposits it into a bank account set aside for his daugher.
“I will be able to continue putting $100 a week into her account and hopefully when she turns 18, she will have enough money for a deposit to buy herself a new house and start her new phase of life.”
Yugal says his wife reminded him just this morning that life would be different if he hadn’t quit smoking.
“She said to me ‘if you were still smoking you would be outside the house not spending time with us’ and it’s true, and that would be too hard. Did I mention Tianna is beautiful!”
Yugal says thanks to the love and support of family, and with help from Turanga Health, he will never smoke again. “It sometimes takes a couple of go’s. I recommend Turanga Health to anyone else who is ready to quit.”
Yugal on missing moments: “I went to visit my mum back in India. I love my mum. It was disrespectful that I had started smoking and I didn’t want her or the neighbours to know. To have a cigarette I would have to: get on a motorbike and drive four kilometres away; make a cigarette holder out of paper so my hands didn’t smell; eat a lemon afterwards so she couldn’t smell it; then motorbike back to her house. The effort took half an hour and I did it multiple times a day. Talk about missing moments!”
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