Maxwell has always loved learning and was a great student throughout his schooling. In 2013, he left his home island of Tanna, Vanuatu, to go to college in Fiji, to study Theology, History and English.
Max, who also loved sports, joined the local soccer team. But a serious knee fracture during a soccer game was about to end his college education. His leg did not heal well, and Max was flown back to Vanuatu, where he underwent surgery and treatment. He did not return to Fiji: “I was devastated because I really wanted to keep on with my studies in Fiji.”
One day, whilst gardening, Max re-injured his weak knee. He was flown to the capital’s hospital but his leg had to be amputated. After the amputation operation, Max didn’t know what his future held: “I just wanted to go back to Tanna because I felt useless in Port Vila. Life is hard in town unless you have a job.”
But when he saw an advertisement on TV for Youth Challenge Vanuatu (YCV), an organisation that provides trainings for youth, Max saw it as a chance to keep learning and maybe have a career. “I received trainings on life skills, personal budgeting, leadership, business management, first aid, job seeking, interview skills, computer skills and even more.”
“YCV stands up for the youth with poor education backgrounds. They build them up and upgrade them to a level they never thought that they would ever reach in their lives.”
YCV saw Max’s strength, through all the challenges in his life, so they asked him to be a motivational speaker for other youth, to share his experiences and tips about ‘never giving up in tough times’. After leaving Fiji and having his leg cut off, there were many times Max nearly gave up. But “YCV took all the negatives out of my life and replaced them with positive hope for a successful future.”
As part of the program, Max completed an internship with the Vanuatu Society for People with a Disability (VSPD), supported by a stipend paid by Oxfam. He later got his current job with the VSPD.
His job involves making surveys and assessments in communities about disability inclusion, and using the results to improve the lives of people with disability. “Having a disability myself means that I am really committed to and enjoy my job.”
Max’s life is different now that he is able to support his family. Using the business skills he learnt with YCV, he also opened a small store and plans on opening up a second one. “I owe my success to YCV. I am now able to help myself, my family and pay for my younger brother’s school fees.”
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