Epi is confident, happy, enjoys conversation, and can’t wipe the smile off his face.
He tells me what it was like living in the sound of silence. “Have you heard the remake of that song?” I ask. He shakes his head, so I open YouTube on my phone and play him the powerful ballad. He doesn’t need to strain to hear the tune. The words resonate with Epi and his eyes glisten slightly. “Wow,” he says, “I love this song. I love even more than I can actually hear it.”
A recent operation has repaired one of Epi’s ears. The second operation is scheduled for October and it is believed he will regain 100% hearing by the end of 2017.
Epi looks me in the eye and says, “If it wasn’t for the Whanau Ora Service here at Nga Kete I never would have had that operation. I would’ve still been deaf.”
- Nicci McDougall, Communications, Media and Marketing Manager
This is Epi’s story one year on:
My name is Epi Walker and last year I told my story of living with a severe hearing disability, which led to job loss, a lack of education, relationship breakdowns, depression, and a drug and alcohol addiction.
I felt discriminated against, I felt unimportant, I felt embarrassed, and eventually I realised my injury had completely defined me.
But now I know I was wrong.
I’ve come a long way in the past year. I am still a client at Nga Kete and it’s because of the Whanau Ora team I have recently received a life-changing operation.
For the first time in 20 years I can hear! In October I will receive my second operation and it’s believed that by the end of this year I will have regained 100% hearing.
It’s hard to describe how I felt when I started to gradually hear the world again. Amazing, scary, daunting, incredible, new!
I still can’t quite believe it! I can have a conversation, I can relate to people, I can hear the birds singing, I can hear songs on the radio, and I can hear the kettle boiling.
My confidence is returning, my wall is slowly coming down, and I can now start focusing on my future.
I am going to study beekeeping, I am going to re-sit my welding certificates, and eventually I am going to return to work. I’m going to continue building on my passion of carving and I have started mending bridges with whanau.
I can finally achieve the goals I’ve always wanted to rather than being constantly held up by an old injury.
Whanau Ora haven’t just assisted me with future planning, budgeting, arranging and attending appointments with me; It’s because of them I’m able to hear again and lead an enriched life.
For more information about our Whanau Ora, Addictions, or Disability Service please contact us (03) 214 5260.