To some people, collecting stamps doesn’t sound very exciting. But bear with us while we share Sergio’s touching story, which heavily revolves around stamps!
Collecting stamps from a young age
Sergio started collecting stamps when he was a young boy. A family member had been saving stamps just in case any children wanted to take up the hobby.
He decided he did. And Sergio collected stamps until he finished school and began working full time. His life path took him from South Africa to New Zealand, then Australia.
Fast forward to 4 November 2001. Sergio crashes his car after suffering a diabetic coma.
He didn’t know he had diabetes.
He awoke not only to a diagnosis of diabetes, but also to the fact he was a hemiplegic.
That means paralysis down the whole left side of his body. He can’t feel it at all, even now. Using his right hand he pokes his left shoulder to demonstrate that there’s no feeling.
Sergio spent weeks in hospital, followed by two-and-a-half years in Shenton Park Rehabilitation Centre.
He had to learn to walk again.
He had to learn to talk again.
He had to learn to read and write again.
But Sergio is no quitter. He’s defied the odds to live a fulfilled, independent life.
And stamps have played a big part in that, as well as social connection.
Sergio started attending Mundaring Men’s Shed many years ago.
It was fellow member Terry who asked him what he did in his spare time.
I told him I didn’t have a hobby because all I’ve ever done is work. He said, but what do you do? And I told him that I sleep.
Then he asked what I did when I was a child. And they were the magic words – childhood and hobby.
A million stamps
Sergio enthusiastically resumed his old hobby around 10 years ago.
He has thousands of stamps from across the globe, with every country accounted for.
He’s up to his 76th album, and estimates he has nearly half a million stamps in his collection.
That’s 500,000 little pieces of paper telling a fascinating history of the world.
And that’s hour of painstaking work to order, inspect, trim and arrange the stamps.
I don’t collect for value. It’s just something to pass the time and I enjoy it. I’m a collector by nature and I like order.
I think I have endless patience. Sometimes it takes me ages to do something that, if I was able, would only take me five or 10 minutes.
Sergio continues to visit the Men’s Shed twice a month. Incidentally Terry collects stamps too and Sergio often trades with him or gives him duplicates.
The other duplicates are sent to the UK via Sergio’s sister to go to charity, so that people with a disability can sell them and make money.
Terry started the ball rolling again and I’m so grateful. I think I’ve given away nearly a million stamps over the years. I understand the situation these people are in.
As well as visiting his mates at the shed, Sergio also travels to Touhy House every day for a meal and to see his mates. This is where his mum lived before she passed, and Sergio has a special connection to the staff and residents.
I got special permission to keep going there every day. I have a meal and visit with the residents. Some of them have no one.
But for Sergio he has a full life.
Full of friends, full of giving, full of purpose. And stamps!
Rise provides numerous aged care services, which includes social centres, personal care and home support. For more information click here.