We had the pleasure of doing a short interview with Joseph Fa’afiu, the founder of HOPEWALK — Suicide Awareness Movement. Tomorrow (Saturday 11 June 2016) HOPEWALK will be taking place in Mission Bay, Auckland at 12 noon. Please be inspired by Joseph’s words and come along!
Please give us some background on how Hopewalk started and what it is all about.
Hopewalk started as an idea in 2015 and found its form in 2016 with our first Hopewalk in South Auckland which attracted over 2500 people. Hopewalk was birthed to give communities, families and individuals a voice.
What personally inspires you to be a part of such an amazing movement?
What personally inspired me was the fact that I tried to take my life when I was 18, and than 6 years ago lost a dear friend to suicide. That’s what inspires me and many of our team.
What is the goal behind each Hope Walk?
Our goal is ZERO suicides, but it will be a journey. So part of that journey is to break the stigma, silence and shame around suicide and mental illness. It’s time to talk so we can make a change.
Please tell us about the other projects and work that you do?
We have HOPEWALKS which is our aim to give communities their own walk. We also have TALKING WALLS which is a partnership with local urban artists to write positive messages of hope. We do a lot of social media projects to get youth talking and one of our aims is to also highlight other organisations and agencies that are like-minded.
Why do you think suicide is such a problem here in New Zealand?
Suicide is an option for people. We want to be able to give people an alternative = life and hope.
What is the most effective way we can go about making a difference to those who are struggling (those around us and also on a national scale)?
Awareness — making people aware of mental illness and suicide.
What comment, quote or advice would you like to leave with our readers?
DON’T GIVE UP — take one day as it comes, one step at a time, one word, and one day you will find your voice. We are walking for you. There is hope, that’s why we are stronger together.
HOPEWALK is another great example of a positive movement in New Zealand. As more like-minded people gather together with one heart, we can truly work towards peace for those who are experiencing the internal wars of mental illness and suicide. Let’s work hard to bring life and hope to those around us. See you at the walk tomorrow!