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Mature students can have many different reasons for returning to education.
But for NorthTec business student Ana Sadlier, the motivation was clear. Ana has gone back to the classroom because she wants to learn how to run a charitable foundation set up by her daughter, Esther-Jordan Muriwai.
Esther-Jordan suffered from the respiratory condition, bronchiectasis, and sadly passed away, aged just 24, in June 2014. She was born with a rare, congenital disorder affecting her lung function, which rendered her a frail child with bronchiectasis. This was exacerbated by a bout of childhood whooping cough, leaving Esther-Jordan with the debilitating condition and causing her to spend more than half of her young life in hospital.
Ana is still grieving for her daughter, and thinking of the special memories they shared. But the legacy left by this bright, beautiful and talented young woman is helping her whānau through their grief and giving their life meaning.
For Ana, it has meant a return to studying to learn how to provide professional management for the Bronchiectasis Foundation – the result of Esther-Jordan’s hard work in her last few years.
The Foundation was launched on April 7, which would have been Esther-Jordan’s 25th birthday. Her parents, Ana and Camron Muriwai, are two of the trustees, along with five other people enlisted by the dynamic young girl. Esther-Jordan also successfully applied for initial funding for the Foundation, persuaded seven health professionals to act as the organisation’s medical advisory board, and lobbied the Governor-General of New Zealand, Sir Jerry Mateparae, to be its Patron.
The Bronchiectasis Foundation will enable fundraising to support people suffering from the condition, and, Ana hopes, to help find a cure. It will also raise awareness of the condition, which can generally be managed if diagnosed early enough.
With this in mind, the mother of five, who is also raising her 12-year-old grandson, made the decision to undertake a one-year New Zealand Institute of Management Diploma in Management at NorthTec. She is learning how to manage effectively, how to market the Foundation, and how best to communicate, and is considering going on to further study after completing the programme.
Having previously worked in the health sector before staying home to be Esther-Jordan’s carer, Ana is looking forward to being able to combine her professional skills with her passion to see the Bronchiectasis Foundation – Esther-Jordan’s dream – take off and help as many people as possible.
She said: “This is her legacy. There is nothing else that I want to do. Esther wanted somewhere for people with bronchiectasis to go to, she wanted a haven for them.”
Ana said when Esther-Jordan was diagnosed with the condition “we had no idea what it was and had no support”. For the family it was a struggle, dealing with a child with a serious lung condition and doing so without a support network or services.
Esther-Jordan was determined to change all that, so in conjunction with Far North GP, Dr Lance O’Sullivan, she started the Northland Bronchiectasis Support Group, before laying the groundwork for the Bronchiectasis Foundation. The support group enables people suffering from bronchiectasis, and the parents of children with the condition, to meet and keep in touch via Facebook.
Ana was initially daunted by the prospect of academic study, but is delighted to find she is succeeding and enjoying the challenge. She said: “The tutors are just wonderful and they are really supportive. I try hard to be focused in class and to take note of what the tutors are saying. Amazingly I am doing really well!
“I am not doing the course for myself, I am doing it for my daughter and for the Foundation. Every time I come here I can get so emotional because I know my daughter is with me. Esther-Jordan was very academic; despite missing so much schooling she had a diploma and a degree. When I’m doing an assessment she is with me.
“By seeing what she has gone through we can help those that will go through it - every child or teenager that has bronchiectasis will have similar experiences to Esther-Jordan. So instead of sitting at home and just grieving and grieving, I thought I am going to do something and I am going to study. I will grieve all right but I must be doing something. I am able to channel my grief through my work for the Foundation.”
Camron and Ana are now preparing for the launch of the Bronchiectasis Foundation’s web site, and Ana is drawing up a strategic plan for the organisation, as one of her assignments. She dreams of converting a house in central Whangarei to become its headquarters, and is hoping for a garden for children to play in as well as office space and meeting rooms for support groups.
The pair are also thinking of writing a book about Esther-Jordan’s life, courage and determination, and containing some of her writings.
Anyone wishing to donate to the Bronchiectasis Foundation can contact Ana via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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