When we came to volunteer at Somos, earlier this year, saying goodbye after 8 weeks was the hardest part. I started to prepare the children for this, especially during yoga classes. We spoke about cycles, and how everything, starting with our breath, has a beginning, an opportunity to experience it, and an end.
Since it was the beginning of the year, I believe the children did not expect people to leave. Maybe they thought we, the volunteers, would stay forever. Time is such a complicated concept for kids and before we all knew it, our stay was coming to an end and sad tears were about to be shed.
Later this year we decided to come back. It’s now been another two months here. Kids seem to have gotten used to volunteers coming and going. When we came back, some were incredulous and cautious to get attached to us again. I was rationally prepared for that but emotionally I did take a hit. I suddenly empathized so much with the kids.
Since coming back, I have taken on the role, among others, of coordinating long-term volunteers here at Somos. What we do now when they arrive and introduce themselves is to let the kids know for how long they are here. It seems to help create a time frame, but, of course, it does not take care of the actual feeling of missing someone when they leave. Though volunteers are here to support with the programming, attachments form. This shows me how precious compassion and caring for others are in interactions, be they short or long-termed. So let’s shed some light of awareness on our everyday exchanges, and really make the most of our opportunity to experience them.
Global Development Manager