Kia ora te whanau, ko Tammy Mohi toku ingoa. Ko Ivy Herewini toku mama, ko Terence Mohi toku papa, ko Richard Tuakana, ko Colleen, Hine, Judith Tuahine. Ko iwa tamariki me te taonga aroha.
(Hello to all, my name is Tammy Mohi, my mum is Ivy Herewini, my dad is Terence Mohi. My older brother is Richard, my younger sisters are Colleen, Hine and Judith. I have nine children whom I love and treasure dearly.)
I was in a relationship with the father of my eight youngest children for over 12 years. Behind closed doors, we all regularly suffered domestic violence, and emotional, verbal and spiritual abuse. My self-esteem, confidence, and spirit were living in silence. I was alive, but I wasn’t.
In November 2011, I went to the Maori Women’s Refuge. I decided to leave the relationship, but too much abuse for too long had left us all broken in our own ways. My babies were hurting, and all they wanted was their father home. Their behaviour changed, and I truly felt they hated me. I was stressed and depressed, and it felt like I had no one. It seemed easiest to go back to living in silence. Life was unbearable.
I came to The Salvation Army in May 2012, referred to do its Personal Lifestyle Programme. We shared many laughs and many tears. It was here that I started forming my first friendships. I loved the atmosphere around me.
I brought my babies to church for the first time ever. Hana Seddon was doing a korero on rest—‘How appropriate,’ I thought. When she sang, it was beautiful. I shed a few tears. Afterwards we all had coffee.
Normally, I would feel anxious and like everyone’s judging me, but people were so friendly and admirable. I smiled a lot that day. We went back a few more times, and nothing wavered. It was real.
I then met Sharon Bain (Shaz). We talked for a while about the church, children’s programmes and activities. Before I knew it, I was sharing my story and crying tears of release. I started attending Bible studies and asked a lot of questions. Through the Word, I began finding more answers.
One day, I had to talk to Shaz, as I was very upset. She asked, ‘Have you accepted God into your heart?’ I said, ‘No.’ We sat on the steps in the sun. I closed my eyes and we prayed. I am now walking with God.
This has been a big change for my children. They are still hurting, but I am starting to see positive changes. My proudest moment was when Reginald (11) and Cruiz (9) asked me if I could get them their own Bible. I prayed, ‘Thank you, Jesus.’
My children and I will walk the path that God has chosen for us and we will be humble in it for God has not failed us thus far. I am alive. Kia ora, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.
By Tammy Mohi (abridged from War Cry, 6 April 2013, p9)