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Searching for Love.

The story of Isabelle Apulu.

My earliest memory is standing alone, staring at a window, wearing nothing but a nappy. I had been taken by my birth mother and placed into a Church run children’s home in Manurewa when I was 3 years old. I stayed at the home until I was 7.

I was a lost child in the NZ government system, lonely and afraid– it was very much “sink or swim”.

I was just another mouth to feed, another child in the crowd.

Between the ages of 7-14, I was living in a permanent foster home. I am Maori- Cook Island and the foster family was European. My foster mother was good to me, she introduced me to Jesus and showed me love.

I felt like I didn’t belong

Devastatingly, during these years, I was repeatedly sexually abused by my foster father.

By 15 years old, I had dropped out of school and moved in with my boyfriend. I had no idea of my worth or who I was. I was lost.

My behaviour, and the people around me reflected and reinforced my low self-image

I had no stability or respect for authority. I was drinking alcohol and taking drugs. Living in Auckland, Whangerei and Blenheim.

Party, party, party.

I remember being stoned one night, and a vivid dream of hell scared me so much that the next day, I had packed up and left, running to my foster mum in Otorohanga, she was my only real reference of normality; but in her situation of divorce and young kids, she could not cope with herself, let alone me and my trouble.

My Aunty was going to a church in the area, and she took me along with her, it was there that I met the pastors of the church, who eventually became my whangai family. From them, I finally met stability and saw love in action. I saw a healthy marriage and relationships with children, boundaries and safety.