I don’t know how many of you will actually read the whole thing, but I’m posting this because it’s another i-want-to-read-in-the-future-and-remember post.
When I first signed up to volunteer for the Deafblind International Conference, I didn’t know what I was putting myself into. Yes, naturally it’ll be for a good cause. But I knew nuts about the event.
After exchanging several emails, I did my registration form, National Police clearance and had all systems go. Yesterday was the first day of training for all volunteers.
It was such an eye opener for me, in so many aspects of life. I learned things that I wouldn’t have learned anywhere else, I met people from several walks of life, shared their stories and experiences, and most importantly, had fun.
There were about 30 of us volunteers, ranging from the age of about 18 – 70. Everyone was there for a different reason – personal encounters with deafblindness(family, friends, etc), part of their post graduate program, simply love volunteering, or to fill in some free time.
A little bit about ‘deafblind’. It’s not being deaf or blind, its the both together. It can be partial or complete loss of both. And now, most countries are addressing it as a unique term and therefore spell it as one word, and NOT deaf blind.
Like ourselves, on a rate of 1 to 10 our hearing and vision might be average(even though we use glasses and lenses) so it’ll be 1.
Hearing = 1
Vision = 1
1 X 1 = Hearing/seeing something only once to understand it
For someone with partial hearing on a scale of 5 and average vision of 1
Hearing = 5
Vision = 1
5 X 1 = Hearing/seeing something FIVE times before fully understanding it
And that’s the impact of deafblindness.
It made me feel so fortunate to be sitting in that training room, being able to see, and hear my surroundings, to take it all in and to appreciate all the little things. A few of us were then blindfolded and given ear plugs for a mere 2 minutes to feel what it was like. And it felt HORRIBLE.
Some of us just don’t see how fortunate and how good there is going for us. Imagine having to lose our hearing/vision one day…be it trauma, accidents, or even aging.
That wasn’t all. I had the opportunity to meet and talk with other volunteers. There was a lady, Jane, from Cape Town, South Africa. Being the white population in South Africa, and being from Cape Town itself, she was lucky to be able to migrate here together with her husband Chris and 9 year old daughter Nicola(whom I eventually met after the training).
She shared with us on stories in South Africa, how wonderful and beautiful Cape Town is…so surreal and scenic…but right across that border, poverty and violence is so out of control. At night, you can’t stop at traffic lights even though it’s red because someone will always come and bash you up in your car or rob you.
And in developed countries, people complain about poverty, or about not having enough money to survive on. Not having enough money to survive? Or to pay for phone bills and more clothes?
We had so much to talk about over great company and great food. Yes, there were complimentary refreshments and BBQ or as the Aussies call barbie. And even free wine! 😀
We were pretty impressed as well because we were all so well taken care of. A free shirt to be worn that day, and a bag to be used throughout the 5 days of the conference all equipped with goodies – a conference paraphernalia:-
Sweets – to keep you awake and get you going
Notebook and pen – to take notes
No rinse antibacterial hand gel – to wash your hands before you eat/after you take the guide dogs out without the need to find water
Body lotion & Lip balm – incase it gets too dry in the air conditioned rooms
Nail filer (!!!!!!) – to file your nails when you’re bored hosting at the conference rooms
Listerine strips – to keep fresh breath when interacting with delegates all over the world 😀
Tissues – self explanatory
Well, I’m looking forward to Day 2 which is in about 2 hours time.
This is the first time I’ve volunteered for something like that. Not counting those school fund raising sales, or Leo Clubs kind of thing. This won’t be the last time either and i’ll therefore dedicate a whole new category to charity work. (=
If you’ve got a bit of time to spare, do give a bit of time to those who need it more than us. The feeling of satisfaction is more rewarding then you can ever imagine and it is an experience of a lifetime.