One year as a volunteer in Germany

As many of you know, it’s been already a bit more than a year since I came to Germany to do a voluntary service. Why am I still here? An opportunity to prolong the voluntary service came along and I said yes to it.

I must confess one of the reasons I took advantage of it was the hope that life will get back to slightly normal so I can enjoy this experience at its best. But… we are still waiting for that. Germany it’s in lockdown from late November until 7th of March. And as I was waiting (and maybe all of us were waiting), life was happening. I am going to give now a short insight into how life was happening to me.

As you know, as a volunteer I am working with people with different disabilities, which means I spend most of my time with them. What does that mean? I go to work; I prepare the space for them to arrive, then together with my colleague we are waiting for them to arrive. After that, the day slowly starts – someone prepares coffee, someone maybe tea; later usually someone wants to play, someone to draw, someone maybe to listen to music, someone to read the newspaper. We are trying to give everyone the chance to do what he\she wants. Later we start the preparations for lunch, most of the time someone helps us in the kitchen. Lunchtime is always an important and an enjoyable period of the day, since besides having the chance to eat together some tasty food, people get the chance to share a bit. After lunch the participants have the chance to lay down and have a short nap, so we can have game parties in the afternoon with more energy. Besides the game parties, we do different things together: like baking, decorating, drawing, or now as spring is slowly coming, I hope we will go outside more often.

All sounds nice, but there are also some rules: we have to wear masks obviously, we have to do a lot of disinfection, limited number of persons allowed to be together or to go out – currently going out to take a walk for example is allowed only in couples. These kinds of rules makes real life without the virus a dream, which I long to experience.

Now you might think about the challenges. One of them is the result of the many restrictions, our opportunities to do things together are limited, so we more or less are tied to the routine, and for a soul like mine sometimes it can get hard to accept it, to enjoy it, to be happy about it. Another challenge is getting used to the different characters of the people, all of them have their own worlds – which by the way is wonderful, it’s amazing to see how different their worlds are and how unique they are – challenge comes when you have to bring their worlds together, especially now, in times of pandemic, when there are special regulations.

Other than that, some challenges occurred in my personal life. Maybe the most challenging thing was that I get used to this safe mode style of life. It was hard to satisfy my soul hungry for travel, for adventures, for meeting new people, new friends… But challenges unwillingly can make us to learn things. What did I learn? Which are my real necessities and which the created ones are. To replace those bigger events which bring bigger emotions with smaller ones, to indeed appreciate and be happy for the small things, which many times go unnoticed. To realize that we are indeed in this together and to learn what this means and how exactly to be in this together. To understand how to put the accent on quality instead of quantity.
But well, besides challenges, there was time for fun as well, I am really grateful for some friendships I made and that those friends accepted me as I am and they were there when I really needed someone, I am grateful for the times we spent together, the things we learned from each other.

Even though my brain understood and accepted what was (and it is still is) happening, it gets hard from time to time. But at the end, I still do have hope. That magically from one day to another (almost as it started) everything will get better.

Szász Csilla