Volunteer stories: Sue (Nov 16)
I’ve put off writing this for a few days after my return from Camp Alexandreia as i wanted to allow my mind to shut down and exclude the experiences I had volunteering there.
After researching websites for charities working in refugee camps I took the plunge and contacted Paul Hutchings of Refugee Support as they offer structured, well planned support.
My journey began in mid September for a 4 week stint. As I’m an older (haha) volunteer I worried about fitting in with the team, mainly younger than my children, would I be a burden? Could I cope with the physical and emotional demands that would be asked of me? My fears were soon dispelled as I became part of this “family” of volunteers and had the pleasure of working with the wonderful co founders Paul and John. It became apparent to me that I wanted to do more so after a weeks break I returned for a further 5 weeks.
Time flies – not enough hours in a day! There are tears, hugs, smiles, greetings, high 5’s, giggly children, fighting children, women doing their washing, skipping ropes, marbles, swings, shouts of “my friend” when they don’t know your name, adults with sadness in their eyes that momentarily a new pair of socks can bring hope and a little light relief to their lives of boredom, waiting and frustration.
I went to camp with an open mind and heart, not really knowing what to expect. I could tell you horror stories that would make your stomach churn and your eyes shed tears. Recounting these shared moments by refugees won’t serve any purpose to these people, who are so strong and have ambitions to fulfil, professional people whose aim is to live in peace.
Back to reality – or is it? In the last 3 days I’ve experienced rudeness, dispassionate people, a materialistic society and been robbed but still I have a calmness that Refugee Support has brought to the fore of my personality.
If at the age of 67, I can do this, I’m sure you can. My life has been enriched, I felt exhilarated, given energy, made friends for life. Become part of this “family” of volunteers, you will get back far more than you put in. For sure, I will be back!