The moment I have been waiting for arrived this week. I woke up early Monday morning to get ready for my first day volunteering at the YMCA. I was not sure what to expect. Ok I started to feel a little nervous, but remembered that this was volunteer work. I arrived just past nine in the morning, I signed in as I was told to do and inquired about the coordinator, the woman I had spoken to last Thursday, Mrs. Taylor. I met her and she took me to my first class where I was introduced to the form teacher and explained to the class that I am a volunteer. I sat at the back of the class on a wooden chair being held up on four metal legs. I crossed my legs and opened a book to glimpse through. “The great controversy by Ellen G. White” of all the books to take from the teacher’s room, this is one I grabbed. It was the title that drew my attention. But then learnt that it’s a book written for Seventh Day Adventists, though I’m sure it’s a book that anyone can read. I carried the book around with me throughout the day as I was going from class to class to observe; while reading bits and pieces. I felt I had met her when I was consistently attending the Adventist church on Saturdays back in 2009, just because. I had made some friends during that period of time and I was curious about their beliefs. I did not have an issue attending the services, though I found the issue rest in attending Sunday….oops Saturday School. I was annoyed by the continuous references to this Ms Ellen G. White. She was continuously used as reference to how one ought to live. In any event, there I was sitting at the back of the class observing these young boys, while attempting to read parts of the book to which I had no interest in the content.
These boys attend school at the YMCA because they are not able to function well in regular high school. Some are as young as 12 while others are as old as 17. Yet every age group could be found in this second class I was observing, it’s called form #1 and in this form they all function at a grade three level. My first day and I had to speak to this 17 year old who was walking in and out of the class as he saw fit. The teacher looked like she had already given up on him, but who to blame her. I know the nature of that work. Everyone experiences a little burnout. He threw another child’s shoes inside a hole in the roof of the class.
In the third class, the students were not as difficult but they had trouble focusing on their school work. She maintained a little more order than the first, but then, I wouldn’t exactly call someone who has to redirect children every minute, order. By two o’clock I was glad when school was dismissed.
The following day was different. I sat inside the first period upon arriving after nine in the morning. This time the class I supervised was much better than the day before.The students actually completed all the work the teacher assigned them and were eager to show the work to the teacher. I helped with the marking of the assignments which made for a more productive day.
Speaking of productive, at 12pm I left the YMCA to work at a soup kitchen held at the Webster Memorial United Church located on Halfway tree Rd. Tears came to my eyes when I saw the amount of homeless people that were standing around neatly organized tables, hands clasped in prayer upon completing devotion. When they were done praying, I walked out with a tray with dishes of soup on it to be served to the men and women. Isn’t this what Christ wanted us to do?
An attendance was taken while soups were going down people’s stomach. Water was handed out in plastic cups to quench thirst, and sincere “thank yous” were heard. I’m not sure if I had ever done anything so touching before. But when I thought this was all I needed to fulfil my day, there was the homework club which was held an hour later. Students, as young as six arrived to get help with homework.I sat there the entire time making myself useful. The children began to grow on me even during that short two hour span. I can’t wait to see them again on Thursday. Thursday I hear, the Soup Kitchen is even busier than on Tuesdays. Rice and Peas is preferred over the soup, so they anticipate at least 100 persons.
All in all, this week–volunteer week, started on an excellent note and I hope the rest of the days will go as well as the past couple days have been.
Wow! The town experience must really be different from country. Where I am, there’s no soup kitchen, no YMCA and is the homework club free? I haven’t seen one around here!
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Yes the homework club and the soup kitchen were offered by the church- they are all free.