In the days following the February earthquake I sat at my friends’ house for hours at a time transfixed by the images fed to me via the TV and internet. I cried at what I saw. And I cried for all the people affected. And I wanted to help. So I cried because I was sitting there, not helping. But, after the September earthquake I wanted to help too….so I rang and emailed places to find out what I could do using my skills. And no one was interested. Turns out that so many people did the same thing that there was no way to co-ordinate all the offers of help.
So I sat and watched instead. Mostly feeling numb. And sometimes feeling completely useless that I wasn’t doing anything.
And I’m sure that all over the city, thousands of people felt the same. I know lots of people signed up for the Student Volunteer Army again – and did a fantastic job. I didn’t. For whatever reason.
I did have the opportunity to spend some time at the Pioneer Welfare Centre with the Emergency Relief Therapists, doing massage for the evacuees and the medical staff and volunteers there. And then I organised an afternoon at the New Brighton Volunteer Fire Station. A team of us provided massage therapy to the fire fighters and the families of those who were not able to stay at home and were sleeping at the station. The highlight of my day was seeing the daughter of one of the fire fighters take over my massage chair and give others massage.
Then, an opportunity came up, via my friend Dan, to work with Telecom and help their staff. I’d like to say that I think the support that Telecom have provided to their staff across the city has been amazing. I’ve seen it first hand and it’s genuine caring.
Anyway, for the past 2 weeks (and for next week too), I’ve been working out of locations around the city where Telecom staff have either been working or gathering. The Swamps (Staff Welfare And Meeting Place) have been my temporary clinic base and over this time over nearly 150 massage sessions have been given. Mostly relaxation massage for a myriad of stress related symptoms, but a bit of injury treatment and a helping with a few old niggles that have flared up. I’ve spent time helping people adjust to working away from their usual workstation/desk set-up. Given advice on reducing their pain and discomfort. Showed someone how to sleep more comfortably on someone else’s sofa. Been and ear for people. But mostly just given them a few minutes of much needed “me” time.
It’s been quite tiring at times – massage is physically and emotionally demanding work.
But it’s been worth it. Because this is why I chose to do what I do. Because in some small way I’ve helped these people. It’s not visible help like digging out a driveway, or delivering toilets, or even baking cakes. But I’ve helped. I’ve used the skills I have to help each person. One at a time.
Just like you’ve got skills and you’ll be doing what you do and helping too, in your own way.
And I’m so happy that I can make a difference, one person at a time.