Being Me: Freedom

(UPBEAT MUSIC) (PENSIVE MUSIC) Some people just think I’m good for
peeling spuds and washing dishes. I can do more than that. Where’s the camera?
Right here. Am I looking at it?
Yep. Kia ora, my name is Freedom.
Everyone calls me Free. I’m 20 years old. We’re here
in the heart of the King Country. Benneydale. ‘Sticker’ for short. And… Oh, yeah,
and I’m blind as a bat. (PENSIVE GUITAR MUSIC CONTINUES) I haven’t achieved anything
impressive — just living my life;
being happy and that. I mean, maybe I’ll find where
I’m going next year tomorrow,… you know, or five years down the
track. But when that day comes,
hopefully I’ll be ready. But until then, yeah, this is me. I don’t hold on to worries.
Try not to, eh, you know? Nah. Now we’ll just
go through these photos. It’ll have been the
18th of the 12th, ’97. She was diagnosed with bilateral
retinoblastoma in the eyes. Both in
the eyes. And then we started chemo, must
of been a couple of weeks after. So it was just full on
for the next three years until Freedom was…
two weeks before she turned 5, eh? And then she lost her left eye—
right eye, and they took her left
eye when she was 3½ months old. And then we just, yeah, we did
radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and then they took her eye
two weeks before she turned 5. Yeah, so she’s been
blind ever since. Fought for that last eye.
Mm. But then when they took her in, then
they came back in and said they had
to take it, eh. Cos it was starting to
spread outside her eye. So, we had—
Oh, we sort of explained to her.
But how do you tell a, you know— …4-year-old.
…a 4-year-old kid that
she’s gonna lose her eye? She probably just thought it
would be a game or something. But I think it wasn’t until
they actually did the operation,
come out of the operation— She just felt her eye.
…she was quite… …traumatised, eh, yeah.
…standoffish. Just keep saying to her,
you know, ‘We love you.’ I was quite ‘thing’ with her at
first, you know, I was just being
her eyes. But then as she got,
sort of, older, she… You got to, sort of, let her
go on her own and… Yeah. (SOFT MUSIC) My name’s Hoka Osbourne. I’ve got
six kids, and Freedom sits about the
third. (DOG BARKS) Work as a shepherd on Tiroa station.
We run over 25,000 ewes on our farm. Oh, look at them. Yep, my dad works here.
He’s permanent. My uncle works
here — he’s the manager. Yeah, my cousin’s up there,
my cousin Levi. He’s my brother. That’s Uncle
that drives the tractor. Today we’re just doing drafting
the wethers of the ewe lambs. We push them into here, then they go
up that race, and then wham, bam,
boom. They get drenched,
then drafted. It’s all good. My dad — he sticks to himself.
Not a very sociable sort of a fulla. But he will get on with anyone,
and he’s taught me a lot. Just taught me to be who I am
when I want to be, you know? And just taught me to be myself. Freedom? She’s a hard worker, yeah. She’s a good worker, yeah.
You tell her to do something, she usually gets up and
goes and does it, so, yeah. Move, move. She speaks her mind.
I wouldn’t say that’s from me. That’d be more from Mum than me. (UPBEAT MUSIC) My mum — without her I wouldn’t
be in the place I am today. Wouldn’t know half
the things I know. Yeah, she’s been a real mean
support person; always encourage
me to do things myself. I would say, from a very young
age, I’ve been brought up like that, so it’s sort of made me, yeah,
do everything my own way and do
as many things as I can do. And if I can’t, I’ll give
it a bloody good try anyway. Well, we just took
every day as it comes, and we just had to deal
with what we were dealt with, cos we didn’t know what tomorrow or
next week would bring, you know? We were just always hit with
hurdles, so, yeah, you were used
to not getting your hope up by— just to be whacked
back down, eh. So, yeah. It was quite hard, actually,
the first four years. Mm. We’ve etched into her, you know,
‘Never let anything get you down’, and ‘there’s always somebody
worse off than you.’ You know? So, ‘The only thing
you can’t do, Freedom, is see.’ But half of the
stuff that she does — a lot of blind people wouldn’t even
attempt the stuff that she does. That’s just her attitude, eh, her
nature in just giving everything
a go. My daughter’s achieved. Even though
she hasn’t gone anywhere in the
world, she’s just achieved by being here, by just living her life
the way we’ve lived our life. Because… that’s just an achievement in
itself — just living her life
with her family. She’s got a neat
attitude to life, eh? You know, just, ‘Ah, don’t worry
about it, bro. Just get over it
and just carry on, eh?’ You know? (POIGNANT MUSIC) READS: ‘We jut found out our baby
has retinoblastoma. It’s a real blow
to us. ‘But never mind. ‘All we have to do is be strong
and positive for our darling.’ Yeah, sure does
bring back the memory. But if you look at her
now, eh, she’s like, ‘Mm.’ (LAUGHS) I remember saying to her the day
when she come out of surgery, ‘It’s all good, my baby.
You use your mouth now, eh?’
Yeah. 16 years later, saying, ‘Shut
your mouth.’ (LAUGHS) You know? ‘Huh? You said “use my mouth”, Mum!’ Now it’s, ‘Shut your mouth.’ Yeah. We said to her,
‘Your name is what it is. ‘You’re free to speak your mind;
you’re free to do anything you want,
my darling,’ you know, ‘The world is yours.’ (BLUES-STYLE MUSIC) (CHAINSAW WHIRRS) Yeah, we were up the
bush getting firewood. My family are shareholders up here. My parents never wrapped me up
in cotton wool or, you know, done
things for me. They just treated me like they would
treat my other sisters and my other
brothers. And I’m real grateful for that, cos,
yeah, I just wanna be the person I
We’re finished there — finished
that wood loading up the trailers. That’s us, and ready to roll, eh? Sweet. Can I drive, Pa? Ooh… Come on now, Pa.
Yeah. I suppose so. Kei te pai.
You be careful. You listen. Yeah. ‘Course. ‘Course. Straight up and down —
stock standard. Righty. (LAZY COUNTRY MUSIC) (SPEAKS INDISTINCTLY) (CHUCKLES) (ENGINE STARTS) Remember to put your
leg on the brake. You in first?
No, you’re in reverse, Pa. A beep. Oh.
There, eh?
OK. Right. Left, left, left, left, left. Another left. A little left. Keep your hand 9 and 3 o’clock. 9 and 3 o’clock. So you can turn left. Left. That’s all right. Coming up to… Coming up to thing.
Put your leg on the clutch. Yeah. Man, you’re the man. My sister Teesha is
like, yeah, mini-me. You know, we laugh. That’s all we
do, pretty much together, is just
laugh and crack up. I know that my sister — she’s always
got my back no matter what, 100%. We do everything
pretty much together, eh? If she could come to work with
me every day, she would. Hunting, eeling, working. Going to town. Even just driving down to the
nearest corner, we just sit
there cracking up laughing. Anywhere with her is just a laugh. Things don’t go her way,
ooh, stand back. I’ve had a couple of goes with Free,
and, ooh, she’s had me upside down. But, hey, that’s life. But, yeah, nah, it’s all good. Just that sister bond
I guess, eh, you know? Yeah. She’s just a normal person, really,
and the only thing she can’t do is
can’t see. She’ll be happy to stay here. She
loves it here. She knows everyone
here. She’s local — very local. Everyone knows her.
Everyone just waves their hand. You know, she can’t see
them, but she waves anyway. If they’re on that side, she’ll
be waving this side, you know. But, yeah, she’ll love it here. We’ve been meaning for you to get
gas. Took it down skidder pad,
tap out. My sister’s 17, and she’s
got a job and a house. And I’m 20, Ma, and I’ve only done
casual work, like, you know, Ma. Like, it’s all that
sort of differences that sort of remind you of why it’s
sort of restricting — a disability. But, like, you don’t let
that stuff get you down, but it’s just— it’s there. Although you’re independent,
you’ll never be fully independent. (SNIFFLES) And just the ability, you know,
to drive around here, just to make me feel… (SNIFFLES) I don’t know, it just gives me peace
sometimes, being able to do other
things that (SNIFFLES) that my brothers and sisters
can do, Ma. (SNIFFLES) Sometimes we’ve just gotta make
the best of what we’ve got given to
us, and, um… But, nah, sometimes it does suck.
You sorta look at other people that,
you know, they can drive and they just get normal jobs. You know, it’s… ah, yeah. But, I mean, besides that,
I mean, it’s all good. But it does play on your mind
when you sorta think about shit
or stuff — that you won’t always
be fully independent. Not out here, anyway. And I’ll always miss, you know,
just trying to do my own things but always having to
rely on someone else. And Freedom — come towards my voice. At 13, she started at that
Homai for the Blind up in Auckland. MAN: Yes.
HOKA: Yeah, that was quite hard. It was quite sad.
I didn’t want to leave her. I used to go to
boarding school when I was 13. And although that was all good, it’s not the same, you know,
not having your family around. And, um,… yeah, I was up there for
four and a half years. She changed for the better. She became more independent. All her Braille writing that she
does — she was blowing me away. Her education was right up there. When I turned 17,
I come home for two weeks, and, um, in all honesty, it
was probably the best two weeks I’ve ever spent with my
family in a long time. You know, we were together.
I felt a part of them. And I never went back to school. (GENTLE MUSIC) That’s six, Ma. Oh, how are you supposed
to get the ball in that? Oh, nah, just do a good one. Eh?
Just do a good one. Oh… Go hard or go home. Here’s the ball. Give me two! There’s no two! You have tricks. You go first.
All right. Oh, two steps back, brah? How are we doing? Here.
(CLICKS FINGERS REPEATEDLY) This is where the cups are, brah. Yeah, nah.
Yeah. Yeah, brah. (BALL HITS CUP)
GIRL: Oh. Whoo-hoo! Did I get it?
Nah. Oh! (THWACK!)
Whoo-hoo! Did she get it? Dial them up! (LAUGHS) Whoo-hoo! Your favourite. Ooh, it’s weak.
Yeah, cos… Ooh, yuck. Ready? Oh, not like that, bro. Oh, you got one. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Oh! Uh! Uh! Uh! The Baileys! Oi, not an empty one. BOY: We’re not actually
singing that song, are we? Can you imagine that, watching it?
(SINGS INDISTINCTLY) (BOTH PLAY TUNE) # If I’m never to fear… # ‘I sang and played guitar and piano. ‘I think I had a term of lessons. ‘Mm. Just cos I had a teacher called
me lazy so I just taught myself. ‘Turned it into a bit of a—
bit of a passion.’ (SINGS) # …there we shared… # Oh, # when the lights are…
# …lights are low. ‘Songwriting — that’s a good one. ‘You know, you can always
just write songs.’ # Oh, oh. ‘I mean, you could choose any
emotion that you’re feeling,
whatever, ‘and you put it all in a song, use
all those words — so many words to
choose from.’ BOTH SING: # We’ll let it go. # Just write your own feelings into a
song, and for me, it was just a main
release of emotions, and I wasn’t bottling it up; I was
releasing it through my music. And that’s why
I loved writing so much — cos I could release all my anger or
my (BLEEP)ing sadness or whatever it
was I was feeling out into the songs,
and I wouldn’t hurt anyone
otherwise with words or actions. All my words that are in songs —
it’s not really based at anyone. So, yeah, that’s sort of
how I dealt with my emotions. (GENTLE MUSIC) I sort of abandoned music because,
um, I felt like it became, like, a
job — it became like a job
and not a passion. I wanted music to
stay as a passion. But the amount of pressure I got put
on me to write songs or perform — it became, like, something I didn’t
want to do but others were pushing
me to do, and so I sort of just
gave it up altogether. Gave it all up, and… Dumb. Very dumb. If I went back to music,
it’ll probably mean everything —
writing again, playing again. Yeah. But the day will come. That day will come, hopefully. (SLOW, INTRIGUING MUSIC) Addie. Where’s the gumboots, brah?
Oh, in here. Here. Here. (GATE RATTLES) Come through the gate.
Follow the gate. Yep. Yep. Oh. Cold. Come to your right, Free.
(DOG BARKS) Here! Here! LOUDLY: Here, p-p-p-p-p-pig! Get it! Here, p-p-p-p-p-pig! What is it? Come on! What?
(WHISTLES) ‘Nothing worries me about life.
I just go with the flow most of
the time. ‘But life ain’t all roses and
bloody rainbows and unicorns,
whatever else everyone’s thinking. ‘Just want to be normal and treated
normal. That’s all I think about. ‘Don’t make us anyone different.
Just want to be treated normally. You know, that whole
‘no judging a book by its cover’? You see someone blind, you don’t
judge them, ‘Oh, they might not be
the bush — so free. ‘It’s tranquil up here, you know?
There’s no noise, just birds. ‘And occasional chainsaws
and cuzzies driving past.’ QUIETLY: Got a bullet? WHISPERS: Got the bullets? So what we’re up to is just waiting
for the brothers to… They run on
foot, track the old dogs. And fingers and toes crossed
that they track something. Chances are good, but every day
sometimes you win some, sometimes
you lose some. Sort of the luck of
the game, I suppose. And I’ll just stay here.
The blackberry’s too thick. Trying to get through there in
jeans — uh, yeah, not the one.
Not the one. We’re not very much of, a outing,
going to town for lunch type of
family. We’re more of a prepare our own food
and all gather round somewhere up
here or on the farm for a picnic while we’re getting wood and tasks.
That’s our family activity. Wasn’t even there. Bloody useless dogs. (CHUCKLES) Might get one on the way out.
Yeah. Yeah. Went for a look up there then,
but there was nothing. Oh yeah? The dogs went right up on that side. Me and the bro have our ups and
downs as brother and sister, but, you know, still love
the bro, eh? You know. And, you know, buzzing out there,
the old bro, blind as. She’s got
more grit than some of us with eyes. But, nah, all in all, pretty mean… to have a sister with a disability
like that and doesn’t let it phase
her, eh. Now that we’re older,
we spend a lot more time together, cruising around the bush
and stuff, out on the farm. She always just comes for a ride. I’m always usually rolling around
by myself, so she always jumps in. Nice to have good company. Even if she had one eye, she wouldn’t even probably be here.
She’d be out doing her own thing, still live in Auckland,
you know, living her own life. Yeah. I mean, yeah. But, like I said, I mean, she
doesn’t let that as a downfall,
let it stop her, eh, you know? Still out there doing it.
Yeah. (GENTLE MUSIC) I don’t really walk
around with my cane. Fairly normal without using a cane. Sometimes I get sick of
knocking into things. Probably three or four times a day. Vicious. Very vicious. Holy hell! ‘Once you hit into it once, I
suppose you won’t hit into it again. ‘You know it’s there.’
Whoa. ‘Gotta start using it again, though. ‘We’d be all safe. (CHUCKLES)’ That’s my favourite. My favourite. Uh… Oh, yeah, nah, look, that’s better. There. Peanut slab. Buy that one. (GIRL CHUCKLES) Um… Oh, nah, there it is. Cracked it. Cracked them. – Oh hell.
– (EGG THUDS) Really cracked that one. Hell. Hi.
Hello. How are you?
Good. ‘Good thing about not living in town
is just the amount of people and
noise. ‘Out in the country, it’s peaceful. ‘I suppose sometimes people think
it’s limiting on the old social
life, but not for me.’ See ya. Have a nice day.
See ya.
(CHUCKLES) ‘Not at all. The only limits
is, yeah, no job and all that.’ (UPBEAT MUSIC) DAPHNE: It’s not what we want, eh.
It’s what she wants, eh. She’s just kinda in neutral, trying
to figure out which paths she wants
to take. You just look at her now, and you
think, ‘Jeez,’ you know, ‘she’s come
so far.’ You know, and she’s
done really well. They always get me to cut the onions
cos, yeah, they think it doesn’t— it
won’t make me cry. But, anyway, life goes on. Just having that awesome nature and
that ‘just give it a go’ attitude,
eh. You know. Got any tomato sauce, Mum? Or tomato puree, tomato paste?
Anything. She just adjusts to whatever’s
around here. She just goes for it. How many KGs of kangaroo? ‘Get out there, girl.’ You know,
‘Whatever it is, get out there.’ I’ll give you a secret ingredient,
eh? Keep it to yourself. Secret ingredients?
Yeah, keep that a secret. (WEET-BIX CRUNCHES) Turn the old pie into
the old possum stew. Bit of a possum stew. Chuck some sawdust on top there. Bit of sawdust there. HOKA: The world’s out there. The opportunities for her to get out
there and go and live her life instead of living
here with Mum and Dad. Yeah, I hope she gets out there
and goes and lives her life,
you know for her own. Oh, that’s a big boy. My hopes for Free is to
live her life the fullest. Party hard, work hard —
you know, just live it up. Just hope she enjoys it, eh.
You know. Don’t, you know,
don’t put her, uh… like how we do — you know,
just do it normally, eh. Just, yeah, just live
life to the fullest. Yeah. CHILD: Hot!
Very hot. I’ll get burnt. I’ll get burnt.
But hopefully I will not get burnt. Oh! There we go. (UPLIFTING MUSIC) Mwah. (UPLIFTING MUSIC CONTINUES) I’m living here, and I’m still
living with my family, still got
my mum and dad and my sisters, brothers. And you sorta need that stuff to
pull you out of that depressing sort
of area. I’m not gonna lie — I wish I could
see. I wish I could see my family’s
faces again. (UPLIFTING MUSIC) I’m where the light is. I’m still
living, still here talking, healthy
as. Just one disability,
and that’s I can’t see. (STRUMS UPBEAT TUNE) Still haven’t finished my journey. Barely started, but
I’ll get there one day. One day. (CONTINUES STRUMMING TUNE) Captions by June Yeow. Captions were made with the
support of NZ On Air. Copyright Able 2018 Attitude was made with funding
from New Zealand On Air. Nominations are now open for
the 2018 Attitude Awards. Held at Auckland’s SkyCity, this
premiere event shines a spotlight on the achievements of people
who live with disability. Go to for
information about the categories and how to nominate someone
you think deserves recognition.

42 thoughts on “Being Me: Freedom

  • Wow! What an amazing family. You're right she is a huge achievement and her contribution to this world is her story. thank you

  • Freedom…you are an amazing young woman…and driving too…which blew me the hell away! I come from a family of seven brothers and a sister, whom like your family, is very supportive and loving in all that we do. Many families who have been devastated by disabling medical and challenging physical obstacles have been "broken." I'm so happy your family bond hasn't let this effect you and all, in keeping the normalcy and LOVE that is FAMILY! So proud of all your accomplishments and goals in life. God Bless You & your beautiful Family. Thank you for sharing your beautiful journey.

  • Wow Free, you are an awesome young woman. Don't ever give up on your dreams. Continue living life to the fullest and enjoying every moment.

  • You are so beautiful Freedom! Sending you love from Brazil… I hope you find even more happiness in life… love 🇧🇷

  • What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! You’re a survivor and the support network you have surrounded by you is absolutely beautiful. You go girl ❤️

  • There was a boy in my sixth form tutor group whose name translated as Freedom, and who was known as Free. I still can't remember what his actual name was but he was from Zimbabwe.

    When the teacher read out his name in class, he said "it means freedom". The teacher asked him "can we call you freedom?" and he said "Free". When she asked him that I thought "wow, how rude".

  • beautiful story from a beautiful girl!!
    inspired to another level with Freedom’s willingness to give everything a go and not to let her lack of sight stop her from doing things everyone else does! she’s not lazy and doesn’t make excuses, totally admirable! 💜 bless you and take care girl!! xx

  • Free, sending you love from the USA. You and your family seem to be some really good people. You drive better than me!!!

  • The ending is great. I used to paint and lost touch with it, when she said she lost touch with music but that she'd get back to it one day I really related to that. Stringing that guitar and playing it had so much power to it. Keep going girl, not for anyone else but for you. 💖

  • A truly beautiful person. You are so inspirational, along with your family 💚

    Love from Ireland, sweet lady x

  • I am moved at how incredible this young woman is!! Such a strong woman your are, surrounded by an amazing family! Good Bless you and your family Freedom x Love from Sydney, Australia

  • Well Freedom! That's a perfect name for her, because regardless of her disability her soul's is truly free!

  • I met Freedom and her mum at a blind and low vision assessment week in Auckland about 8 years ago. I’m so glad to hear she’s doing well and still living life to the fullest 🙂

  • indeed an inspiring video, to see her do things that even i cant do if i was blind,she never lets her disability define who she really is,and to have a supporting famliy as her backbone whats stopping her live her life😍😍…to freedom you go gurl,skys the limit thank you for sharing your story

  • I feel terrible. She's a cancer survivor like me, but lost both of her sight in each eye to cancer and can cook a whole meal, etc. I have both sight in my eyes and I can't cook, isn't the best driver, complains about the littlest things in life, etc. Freedom truly is a motivation for me to try harder at things and to stop complaining.

  • Freedom, what a beautiful name, and equally beautiful soul.
    I watched this and fell in love with your perspective on life. You have taught me a massive lesson.
    You are a gift.

  • This entire family is adorable, BUT they have very poor health just them breathing I can notice they struggle with it. They need to change their diet to be free 🙁 Freedom is so adorable but SHAME ON THOSE PARENTS !!!! I ALMOST FEEL LIKE SCREAMING AT THEM FOR ABUSING THAT CHILD'S DIET!!!!

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