Raeana Papuni wants to share the healing power of the water with other women. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Helping keep heads above water

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It’s her quiet place, underneath the surface. Two years ago, when Raeana Papuni was a victim of domestic violence, she found the water was a place of solace.

“I could block it all out. I could think,” she says.

On a daily basis she would be physically and mentally abused. She would wear long pants and sleeves, even on a hot day, to cover the bruises. She would always wear sunglasses to cover her eyes. Every time that happened she was drawn to the water – to the river, the beach, even the bath.

“When my head went under the water it would block out all the sound, all the echoes in my brain,” she says. “Then when I ascended up it was like I was fresh again.”

The water also made Raeana feel like she had some control in her life. Underwater she had to hold her breath and control it.

“I was empowered, it was something I could control.”

If Raeana could choose she would live underwater. Which is why she now wants to expand the healing she felt from the water to other women.

Her organisation Ascend looks to take women out on the water – to kayak, dive or paddleboard and give them the confidence they need in their life.

She has been doing it for some time but now she is looking to raise funds to help expand it into the community – to other women and children of low income families.

On January 29, Raeana is holding a “seafood fiesta” at the Boathouse to share the message of Ascend. She has been donated equipment from local water sport retailers to auction off.

“It’s really exciting. It’s a huge step for me. In the past I had no confidence. I was stripped of it, I wouldn’t even talk to people. I didn’t like myself.”

But, for Raeana, the water was healing and she wants it to be for other people too.

Seafood fiesta fundraiser on January 29, 7pm-10pm at The Boathouse, Rocks Rd. Email ascend.nelson@outlook.com for more information.