Better to give than receive

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You’d be hard-pressed to find someone more selfless than Fabiola Correa. Daisy Hudson sat down with the Brazilian ex-pat to learn more about the generous Queenstowner

She does everything from helping people with immigration to breaking the news to people that they have cancer.

And for Fabiola Correa, being a translator and helping those in need is a 24/7 job.

Correa, 31, took out two categories at Saturday’s Spirit of the Wakatipu awards – Health and Wellbeing, and the Mountain Scene People’s Choice award.

From the barrage of votes to the outpouring of jubilation following her wins, it’s clear she’s a popular choice.

Correa’s humbled by the nods.

“I was overwhelmed and shaking,” she says.

“I never thought someone was going to nominate me.”

Originally visiting her brother in Queenstown on holiday from her native Brazil after a relationship break-up, like many Queenstowners, she ended up staying.

That was 10 years ago.

“I left my employment as a banker and model thinking that I was going to be back in Brazil in a couple of weeks, but I went to City Impact church and heard the love of God and never left Queenstown.

“I found my identity, my purpose and influence and realise I have so much to give. I fell in love with Queenstown and this amazing community we have.”

She started out as a housekeeper in Queenstown. She has since studied business, hotel management and finance, and is now in her second year of health science studies.

About five years ago, she picked up a Brazilian hitchhiker, who ended up asking her to translate for her at a medical appointment at the Wakatipu Medical Centre.

The centre then asked her if she wanted a job.

“It’s been such a blessing because I see the need of people in the community,” she says.

“I do believe it’s better to give than to receive and it brings me a lot of joy, using my talents to bless someone else.”

Since then, she has given her time to translate in a variety of situations, from women during their pregnancies to jumping in her car and driving to Invercargill to translate for people finding out they have cancer.

“I say it with love, and am there to support them.

“When I came to NZ I couldn’t speak any words in English, but I studied, and I am now fluent in English and able to help so many people, and I remember that one day it was me needing help.”

She has also translated for police.

“To be honest I only do that because I love people and want them to be joyful even when they’re going through hard times in life, to be aware that they are not by themselves and can count on me to help our community.”

She pays for all her own expenses, and leaves work for a couple of hours every week to volunteer.

Part of her drive to give back to others is her upbringing.

Her father was a local politician in their hometown of Tres Lagoas, and she can remember people knocking on their door at night to ask for medication and food.

“I grew up with him doing that all the time.

“He always said ‘if you ever see someone in need, whatever they need, just give’.”

She describes herself as “blessed”.

“The things I do are not in order to be recognised. They are only because I love people.

“We all have a part to play to help our community, with the different gifts and talents we possess, together we can accomplish much.”

She says there are so many people in need, and she would love to help everyone out there.

“I just don’t have the time,” she says.

daisy.hudson@scene.co.nz