general imageHalina Thurlow is on track to achieving her goals, helped by the support of her mentor Celine Tonkin.

The pair have been part of the Blind Foundation mentoring programme for about a year. They talk on the phone once a week and meet up about once a month, talking about goals, relationships, life, the experience of being someone who is blind or has low vision and everything in-between.

Celine has had low vision for about 10 years and Halina has been blind from birth.

They have bonded over similar experiences and both of them would now consider the other a friend.

“It’s been so nice to see Halina blossom. She’s outgoing, got a great sense of humour and a good heart,” says Celine who completed a mentoring training programme with the Blind Foundation.

At first Halina was reluctant to take part in the mentoring programme, daunted by the task of defining what she wanted to get out of life, but she is happy she has.

“I didn’t want to do it to begin with. It was a lot to wrack my brains around having to decide what it was I wanted to do, then going out and doing it.”

The Christchurch resident wants to become a volunteer counsellor for Lifeline, a phone and text support line for New Zealanders who are facing a crisis.

“We all go through some type of `depression, but it’s about coming out the other side of it, and I think I could show people that. It’s something that I would like to do to give back.”

The 61-year-old has an interview in the pipeline, and is excited to get this far in the application process, which is screened for high quality candidates.

However one thing that the mentoring programme has taught her is to not be afraid of failure.

“If this fails, then I will look for something else. You have to develop a healthy relationship with failure and not be frightened by it.”

The Blind Foundation currently has 24 clients who are trained mentors. Mentors provide one-to-one support to fellow clients – either through a long-term mentoring programme, or short-term peer support.

Goals of the peer-mentoring programme are to create a supportive environment, develop new skills, strengthen personal, community and social networks and encourage personal growth and independence.

Mentoring pairs work together for up to 12 months, with a check-in every three months to see if both mentor and mentee want to continue. Pairs also benefit from support of Blind Foundation staff throughout the process.

If you’re interested in the programme, contact us on 0800 24 33 33 and ask to speak to Heather McGill in the Community and Life Enrichment team.