Sunday, May 18, 2008

Charity begins at home

In more ways than one. And that’s a fact.

Every so often, to satisfy my need for feeling superior to other humans, I donate my precious time to a local organization that helps immigrant women. OK, you’re right. That’s a crock of BS. The real reason I do it is that a lady who works there gives killer manicures. And since our town lacks a proper nail salon, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Especially since the lady also does massages and aromatherapy.

So, in exchange for an occasional pampering session, I am responsible for leading refugee and asylum seeking women through the intricacies of western bureaucracy. Which most of the time means, I do my best to guess which boxes on their many forms and applications I should check.

Such services should be provided by the state, but as in other civilized countries, the state does a poor job of providing anything, except mountains of paper to fill out.

Some volunteers teach English (because let’s face it, Swedish is as useless as two tits on a bull, and that’s a fact, too), some provide cultural information (we should take a bath everyday), and some try to convince their charges it’s OK to see a western doctor. It’s all women, by women, for women. Grrrl power at its finest.

My tasks vary. Recently, I taught a chick how to sign her name. I helped another during a visit to the ER. You know, your average do-good volunteer stuff.

Last week I was translating for a quiet woman from Africa. I asked her where she was from. Gabon, she answered. She came to Europe for her children, she said. What was she doing in Gabon? She was a midwife.

I mentioned that I would like to visit her country someday. And visit you should, she answered. The more you know about how people live, the more you can do to help.

After a bit of chatting I found out her brother, who’s a priest, runs a local charity school and would love to have some volunteer help with filling out grant applications, writing quarterly reports, and begging donors for more books and supplies.

So there you have it. You want to volunteer abroad, but can’t afford a program fee with one of the big voluntourism packagers? Get yer lazy ass to a library, ask to help with your local literacy/immigrant/refugee/ group and make friends. It’s one of the many ways to find leads for a DIY voluntour project.

See, your momma was right, charity does begin at home. Helping others will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And who knows, you might even get a manicure out of it.

1 comment:

  1. I loved that !!!!
    During reading this note I had flush in my
    cheeks and smile around my face :D
    "Grrrl power at its finest" that's my favourite sentense.
    PS. I would like to mention that Im not femenist.