Mel Emery is grateful to have the support from the Waterboy charity based in Waikato. Source: The Waterboy, Facebook.
A solo kuia caring for her nine mokopuna in Hamilton has received special support from a charity, The Waterboy.
For personal family reasons Mel Emery, of Tapuika, took in her mokopuna three years ago so they wouldn’t get split into different homes by Child, Youth and Family.
“I believe God gave me all my grandkids back. He gave them to me and now that I have them I am the curer of their kids. I will protect them. I will do anything for them,” Emery told Te Kāea.
One of her mokopuna is 14-year-old Rani who has fetal alcohol syndrome, which means he has an intellectual disability and behavioural problems.
“It’s not his fault. It just really hurts. It makes me angry and it makes me sad,” says Emery.
Rani has received special support from The Waterboy to help get him involved in sports like basketball and martial arts.
“He is a good sports player, Rani. He has awesome mobility skills. There’s even skills I never knew he had,” says Emery.
Members of The Waterboy, including the charity’s founder Thomas Nabbs, have been taking Rani and his cousin Cyrus to martial arts practices. Nabbs is also liaising with Rani’s school to get him enrolled in a basketball team.
Nabbs says that since Rani is intellectually disabled he is unable to put his name forward to sign up for sports teams, and his nan is unable to do so since she is focused on looking after the family at home.
“So it’s just opening those communication channels,” says Nabbs.
The main purpose of The Waterboy is to work with organisations such as schools, district health boards and Child, Youth and Family to identify groups and people who want to take part in sports but can't.
“I started it because sport gives us so many benefits. It gives us physical and mental health benefits but also teaches us self-respect, but not only just respect for ourselves but for other cultures, religions and breaks down social barriers,” says Nabbs.
The Waterboy has helped more than half a dozen individuals, including a Te Aroha whānau. Source: The Waterboy, Facebook
Murray Wallace from Blue Wallace is a sponsor of the charity.
“It was very interesting to be able to sit and listen to Mel talk about the struggles that she has in her life. She’s an awesome lady who has taken on a hell of a lot,” says Wallace.
Emery says she is grateful to have the support.
“Oh man I just thank them for even coming on board for my boys. I really thank them heaps. I’d never think in my wildest dreams that this would’ve happened, people would come on board to help.”