My story starts in 2014 with the death of my father from COPD. COPD is a very debilitating disease, and as I was his carer for two years beforehand, also exhausting for both myself and my sister. He died in October 2014.
In accordance with his will the estate was divided equally with my sister, and after six months we received the money. At this stage my sister was suffering from a lot of pain in her back and legs and after three months, this was diagnosed as kidney cancer – a very virulent form. I found out when I returned from a month in America. Devasting really. I put on a brave face and told her that medicine and medical procedures these days are pretty good. I told her that I wasn’t worried and that if I wasn’t worried than neither should she be. I think she knew otherwise. I asked if she wanted me to still go travelling, and she said “Yes, because the messages and photographs you send back are really funny, and they cheer me up to no end – so keep writing!” So, I did.
In the end about three months later, whilst I was sitting on her bed together with her husband and daughter, my sister passed away. I still remember her last breath. From that night, almost a year to the day my father died, things went a bit skew–whiff. I continued to travel but my soul had gone. In fact, after two deaths, quite a lot had gone missing. My sanity for one.
What made it somewhat troublesome was the fact that the woman who was my live-in landlady decided that ‘tough love’ was needed. I didn’t know that ‘tough love’ involved hitting someone and psychological abuse. With the endless abuse and two deaths, I decided that I should leave this planet. So, I thought that I should starve myself to death.
In a desperate attempt to save myself I went to Norwich City Council. They took one look at me and offered me a beef pot noodle. It was sincerely the nicest meal I had ever had. They put me into a hostel – not the nicest place in the world but at least I was still alive. They then put me forward to Emmaus Norfolk & Waveney.
I had gone to heaven. When I first went there, I was given a tour and when I saw the food table I actually cried. On the first day of me being there they were having a BBQ with big pieces of meat in a heavenly sauce. I spent most of that day in a daze and could hardly speak out of shock.
To cut a long story short, Emmaus saves lives. They become your family, with all the good bits and the bad. They certainly were the best family I have ever had since the real thing went pear shaped. I will not forget them for as long as I live. You make friends that are real friends and they will stay that way as well.
In 2017 I passed my TEFL qualification, which was funded through Emmaus UK’s companion training fund. I then took the advanced course which I also passed. It made my brain hurt! But it was great fun and I really enjoyed it. Whilst at Emmaus, I was getting my confidence back all the time. Eventually it grew into boredom though.
Once I started to feel better, I wanted to fly, so that’s when I decided to move away. I wasn’t sure where, but Dover seemed as good as place as any. I came to Emmaus Dover and within two months I applied for a position as an assistant steward working with P&O ferries. The next day I was invited for an interview! It was a group assessment on a boat going to France and back and then I got offered the job. It’s the most money I’ve ever earned in my life. I can’t cry much more you know; I am so happy. What a ride.