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Hilary Bouma is a wise, and wonderful woman who has many roles and continues to inspire her friends, family and community.
A passionate environmental educator, dedicated to inspiring and engaging young people to become stewards of the coast through her role as Coordinator of a year 9 environmental education program for the past 10 years. Her ability to connect people of all ages with nature’s wonders has made her a beloved educator for programs spanning from ages 4 to 94.
Aside from her professional life, Hilary is also a devoted family caregiver, having navigated the life-threatening illness of one of her sons with Severe Aplastic Anaemia, Bone Marrow Transplant and secondary cancer. Despite the many complications and setbacks, Hilary has been a rock of support, love, encouragement, and positivity to her husband and sons, while also managing the family home and care for other aging family members.
With her natural ability as a born caregiver, Hilary has balanced these various responsibilities with grace and tenacity. It is our absolute pleasure to ponder with her.
Who is the most inspiring human you have met this year?
My son continues to inspire me. He overcomes the challenges of cancer and vision impairment every day and has blossomed into a beautiful young man who challenges himself more, cares for others and the environment.
Any exciting plans for the new year?
Changes in direction, as I have semi-retired from paid work for a while. Time to spend time caring for the elderly and ill family. Time to care for myself by doing yoga, eating well, pursuing artistic creations that have been in limbo for many years, and getting back into the sea for swims. And whatever other exciting opportunities arise.
Family and friendship are…
Being there: to listen and have a chat; to do practical giving of time and things people need; sharing troubles and joys; understanding we are all the same but different; to encourage hope and positivity in others.
Talk to us about your roles in life.
I can’t separate the importance of my occupation and my family. So my role is entwined in both.
Workwise – Coordinator of a year 9 environmental education program for 10 years. It’s designed to engage and encourage young people to care for our coast to create future stewards.
I aim to encourage and inspire people to care for nature by showing and sharing nature’s wonders and how people can make positive practical steps to protect and conserve our environment. I work with people aged 4 to 94 in other education programs and just love connecting people with nature’s wonders.
Familywise – to have a loving family home and deal with life’s challenges together. One of my sons had a life-threatening illness in 2014 called Severe Aplastic Anaemia. Diagnosis and treatment, and recovery were (and are) like running marathons for the child you love. My son had many complications and setbacks and nearly died several times during treatment. He had a Bone Marrow Transplant and then complications of secondary cancer (Lymphoma). He lost his spleen and eyesight and is now living with a vision impairment.
He is well now and living an amazing life despite his impairments. During all this and today, my beautiful husband and other son have struggled and been supportive in their own way. So it’s a huge journey for all of us. My roles have been to support others with love, encouragement, faith, hope and positivity (be a rock); coordinate medical appointments; case manage my son’s schooling, health and recovery; run a family home; look after ageing and ill other family members, look after my health and welfare, and earn some money. So basically, I think I’m a born carer, just like my mother!
Of course, they are just two roles in my life. I do plenty more, haha.
What did you love about your roles?
Seeing the gorgeous bright eyes of children (and adults) who connect with nature. Like finding a decorator crab amongst the seaweed in a rockpool, then touching and feeling the animal with very gentle fingers (emphasising care and respect for living things), being amazed that the seaweed is growing on the crab, wondering how it all works, how the animal eats and survives in the pools and waves, how wonderous they are, and yearning to find out how to care and protect them.
Or learning together about the traditional owners’ ways of life and an understanding of the environment. All the parts of nature make a whole and have a story. Even the shapes of the Moonah tree, so spooky and wildly twisted and beautiful, have a dreamtime story about them.
Learning this wonderous spiritual part of nature is also fantastic. Sharing the love of nature is the best! And I love the coast the most!
What I love about my family role:
What happens in a family is not always what you are expecting. Life throws many curve balls. And I love the love and resilience we all have shared. A family that travels together hangs together. We have been on many adventures to remote places and seen and experienced the wonders of nature together. We all love nature in some way and know that it is healing. We’ve had some pretty rough times but still love each other, with all our faults and bad experiences, and know we can rely on each other no matter what happens.
Why was the work and service you provided so important to you?
The two main parts of my work and service in life, being an environmental educator, and a carer mum, are important because of the connection to love and nature. The world we live in is so magical and magnificent; I want to learn more and immerse myself in the love and spirit of nature for our family benefit and the environment.
Would you like to make a contribution to help support families with children who need life saving treatment?
The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) Foundation is changing the future of children’s health. Their vision is that the RCH, founded in philanthropy, supported now and in the future will have the capacity to transform health care for children and young people.
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