Tuesday, 24 November 2009

What I Learned...

Hey everyone,

heehee. So neither Malcolm nor I have posted for over a month, but it's justified! Malcolm is very busy with school, and so am I with Pharmacy.

However, even during this crunch time before my final exams, I feel the need to post even a very short entry on this blog to document what I learned last shift on Friday, November 20th.

When I walked into the hospice that afternoon, I immediately noticed that the green lamp was sitting on the receptionist's desk, and turned off. Making a note to myself to be more sensitive to my surroundings, I went into the volunteer room and met up with Tony, Jen, and Amanda, the other volunteers during my shift.

We checked in upstairs with the nurses and realized that there were literally no kids who needed volunteer attention. We decided to stick around for dinner, and then figure out if we were still needed.

Half-way through our lonely volunteer-only dinner, an elderly asian lady sat down to join us. I noticed that her eyes were red and puffy. Tony, being the kind soul that he is, tried to engage her into conversation. We soon realized that she could not speak English very well, but she told us that she was from Hong Kong, so I offered that I could speak Cantonese, and Tony that he could speak Toi-San dialect. Turns out that she knows a bit of Toi-San, but speaks primarily Cantonese.

After a few more bites of dinner, she started to talk to us. The nurses told us later that she had not talked to anyone outside of the family all day because of the language barrier, so knowing that Tony and I could understand her, she opened up to us and spoke the feelings she had harboured in her heart from an event that occurred earlier in the day : the passing of her granddaughter.

We listened to her talk, and we did our best to speak comforting words in the hopes of making her feel even the teensiest bit better.
I hope that through her sharing of the story with us, a bit of the burden was taken off her shoulders.

From that night, I learned yet another important role of the Canuck Place volunteer. Shift after shift, each filled with kids and games and relaxation, I often forget why I am really there. But on a night like last shift, I recalled a phrase that I once read in the family volunteer description : we are there to be that "missing friend". Even when the kids don't need us, the families need us.

I'm so glad we decided to stay for dinner.

1 comment:

The Blog

My name is Malcolm and I was a volunteer at Canuck Place Children's Hospice in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada for nearly seven years. Now I support them by raising money by participating in the Canuck Place Adventure Challenges!


I said hospice. Not really a word that you associate with children but there you go. We will tell you about the house as this blog progresses with the hope that you will learn, and as you learn we hope that you will share. The purpose of the Adventure Challenge is to raise money for AND awareness about Canuck Place.

The name of each kid at the house you read about has been changed.

September 14th and 15th are the dates for the next Adventure Challenges.

You can sponsor me for the race here: Adventure Challenge
Maybe you should do the race?

Names:

Just a quick note about the names of the kids in the house that you will read about: they are made up!