The Tuiono-Pouao family’s story
This family honours their daughter's memory by volunteering
Volunteering is something of a calling as the Tuiono-Pouao whānau can attest. Their family was supported by Child Cancer Foundation when their seven year old daughter Iris was diagnosed with cancer in 2014. Sadly, the bubbly little girl passed away just five months after being diagnosed but the impact the Foundation had on the family lived on.
“When Iris was first diagnosed I didn’t really want to hear anything about Child Cancer Foundation and what they could do for us. I wasn’t in the right head space. Our Family Support Coordinator was incredibly supportive though and it quickly became apparent that our family could benefit from Child Cancer’s services.” says Darlene, Iris’ mum.
The family made use of Child Cancer Foundation’s Family Place in Wellington while Iris was in hospital and were supported through medical discussions with Iris’ health professionals. When Iris passed away, counselling was arranged for Iris’ brother Tutavake. He also continued to collect special sibling Beads of Courage® which the Foundation provides to children diagnosed with cancer and family members following a diagnosis.
After Iris passed away the family were given the opportunity by the Foundation to attend various events including remembrance days and the family slowly started to become more involved in everyday life again. One thing led to another and soon the family started fundraising for the Foundation.
“We felt so well supported throughout our experience with Iris that we felt like we needed to give back. We signed up to volunteer for the Foundation’s annual Street Appeal and encouraged extended family and friends to get involved.” – Darlene
Things snowballed and it wasn’t long before everyone around us was fundraising for Child Cancer Foundation whenever they could.
In 2016, inspired by his sister’s favourite rainbow bead, Tutavake came up with the idea of creating rainbow box troll costumes to wear while collecting donations for the appeal. Tuaanu, Iris and Tutavake’s dad, made the costumes. While collecting, the family were surprised by 30 of Iris and Tutavake’s school friends who arrived to support the family’s fundraising efforts.
“It was amazing and a little overwhelming for our family in a beautiful, humbling way. It showed us that the gift of charity goes beyond a few hours of volunteering. It has a ripple effect and touches others in ways you can’t even imagine. Volunteering also teaches humility and kindness and can make all the difference to someone in need which is why we will continue to volunteer and fundraise whenever we can.”
Robyn Kiddle, Chief Executive at Child Cancer Foundation says:
“We are grateful to anyone who can spare a couple of hours to raise funds to help Kiwi kids and their families through their cancer experience. There are collection sites nationwide and just a couple of hours out of people’s days makes a huge difference.”
The Tuiono-Pouao whānau now coordinate all Street Appeal volunteering activities in Porirua and Tawa and volunteer every year for Child Cancer Foundation.
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