Tahiwa found growing up hard. Her father’s abuse led her to run away from home after her first year of intermediate school, leading her to a life on the streets until her early 20s.
‘I lived on the streets from a young age for what felt like a really long time,’ says Tahiwa. ‘I ran away from home and I brought myself up. I just found things too hard.’
After having her first child at 20, Tahiwa found she needed stability and managed to move off the streets. Though she began to get her life back on track and even completed some study, she watched her bills mount. Her financial situation became unbearable after the death of her mother and the added burden of funeral costs.
‘I was in a really bad place. I ran out of money before my pay day all the time because I had so many bills to pay and a family responsibility,’ says Tahiwa. ‘I was pretty well broke. I never had anything.’
About five years ago, Tahiwa’s doctor suggested she go to The Salvation Army for help with budgeting. Tahiwa visited her local Salvation Army Community Ministries centre, where she met with a Salvation Army budget counsellor who helped her come up with a budget plan. Tahiwa also received food parcels and parenting advice to help her with her desire to better look after her family.
‘After I met with the counsellor, things have gotten better,’ says Tahiwa. ‘There are still some times when it gets too much, but I don’t overspend anymore and have started to pay off my debt.’
Since coming to The Salvation Army for help, Tahiwa has started giving back to her community. She helped head up the Adopt a Family Christmas programme, is always willing to help stock the food bank and considers herself fortunate to lend a hand to an organisation that has given her so much.
‘Because of how much I have been helped, I always said that one day I would be the one giving my time back,’ says Tahiwa. ‘I’ve loved working both with and for The Salvation Army. I thank God for them being here. I don’t know where I would be without them.’