When I’m telling people that I volunteered and worked with children, I nearly always hear the same reply: That’s what I always wanted to do too. But…none of them did it so far.
To be honest: I used to be as well one of those guys, saying something like that for the last years.
The outcome: 2 times a year entertaining the kids from the local SOS Kinderdorf group. 2 times a year! Wow, I was generous.
Aware what you deal with:
I got some sad insights from the little experience I gained in Vienna with the kids. Insights about where they have been, and why they couldn’t live with their families any more. Of all of them you could hear in the news…obviously the bad news.
When I decided to volunteer in Nepal at the shelter for former street kids, I knew that I’m going to deal with even harder backgrounds. The questionary I had to fill in for my application of being a volunteer gave me more information.
You have to ask youself:
– How are you going to deal with agressive and seriously fighting teenagers (and streetkids KNOW how to fight)?
– How are you going to make kids talk who have been abused (in any possible way)?
– How are you going to deal with a child badly glinging to you?
– How are you going to feel and react when listening to their stories?
– How are you going to protect them? Are you going to? How are you going to deal with an accident or a debacle?
Stating the idea:
Often I listen to people saying they want to help out for a week or two at a orphans home or a school. Please don’t!
If an organisation takes you for that period of time, they are rather desperate or non-professional.
Kids commit themselves to you. To any authority figure, and the more difference in your culture, appearance etc; the more they are going to be fascinated and bond to you.
5 things you should be willing to give:
– Time: at least 2 months in one place
– Interest for their personalities: and wow what strong personalities they have!
– Passion: There is something that can be improved. Something that can be added. Just do it.
– Personality: don’t try to be something what you are not. You may feel that you have to behave in a certain way for example as a teacher. But you’re not going to be a good one if you’re not authentic.
– Entertain: Have fun and share it with everyone around. Be positive. Don’t treat the kids as victims!
Playing with these kids is not a game!
I don’t want to count how often someone came to visit a school, saying that they want to do this or that project with the kids.
Often they really showed up, started, to find out that they can’t handle it. That it needs more passion and patience. That you need to LOVE what you do. That it needs more time. Much more.
During my time in Asia I met lots of people who came to live there, earning their money by teaching. It’s not hard to find a job like that: in desperate need for qualified, which often just means english speaking people, schools and other institutions take whomever they can get.
How many of them were passionate and really good teachers? The minority.
I don’t want to get you down.
Expect to have the time of our life working withs kids as I had. Laughter. Happiness. Friendship. And lots of love.
But do yourself and the kids and organisations working for their future a favour:
Do it from the bottom of your heart, or let it be.