HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Maria Tanner spends 5 minutes with ... Sheldon Ramer

The self-confessed “chatter box” Sheldon Ramer, counsellor and Punanga Tauturu worker cordially agreed to meet on what he describes as his “undetermined Mondays” where due to my encouragement majority of the Cook Islands Heralds infamous ‘5 Minutes’ column is conceived, Salsa Café. Without hesitation Ramer’s eyes brighten not only with the sudden and timely injection of caffeine but the chance to talk about the one thing that remains on the tip of both our tongues, our youth. Little did the Bronx born Ramer realise that the mundane task of lining for the bank would eventually turn into a four year posting in the Cook Islands.

Despite the fact that Sheldon was already operating a small counselling practice in the outskirts of Christchurch, bumping into Punanga Tauturu’s Nani Samuela at the bank would prove to be one of those life changing moments for the Yankee come Cantabrian. Ramer and the Punanga Tauturu worker got to “chatting” where he offered his counselling services and assistance and because their coupling “worked so well” as he neatly puts it,was offered a permanent role with the counselling services.Ramer sounds every bit as young as he feels, carpe diem and all that jazz but he really is a wise old sage under his cloak of sprightly demeanour as he didn’t dare make a decision without “first consulting my wife,” he says between fits of laughter. “I’m working with people right now who really want to work with youth,” Ramer says inching forward on his seat, “as you know there is a real difficulty with our young people, they seem to reach a point of no way out so they seem….”
“to take the most dire of actions,” I say finishing his sentence.

Nodding in silent agreement Ramer continues on undisrupted, “The work that I do is with people who have hit the wall and basically I help them find the exit. There’s always a ‘back door’ in life and you can always find a way out but sometimes you need a guide, and I know how to help people find their‘back door’.”
This comes off the cusp of the Punanga Tauturu’s three week training course set to begin this week, run by none other than Ramer himself. A basic course “on how to deal with youth, for people who desire to work with youth,” may be the timely injection we need to address the prevalent issues we the Cook Islands face.

Coming from the cooler climate of the deep New Zealand south Ramer has taken some time warming to the informal comparisons of the Cook Islands, “the challenge that I face here is that counselling here is really about telling people what to do, but my practice of counselling is companioning someone until they find out what to do. However there is a great sense of ‘God factor’ or The Divine here that I can really appreciate and work with,” he quickly highlights.

Tackling huge themes of sexuality, violence and dysfunctional behaviour in our communityRamer suggest that culture is largely what dominates our world and argues that for the most part this is the internet, dvd’s and even goes as far to give gangster rap a bad rap, althoughI’m impartial to this last notion myself, adversity is universal despite it chosen platform.

It safe to say that Canterbury holds little or no nostalgic clutch over the balmy climatic grasp of the Cooks for Ramer “and the work that I’m doing feels like I’m actually becoming one of the youth out here, and that suits me from my head down to the ground.”

-Maria Tanner

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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