Thursday, 6 March 2014

Volunteer fatigue

I was feeling overwhelmed this week, even my 'to do' lists had sub lists. After blogging about it a friend at one of the places I volunteer at, suggested I take some time off before I start suffering with the all too common 'volunteers fatigue'

I've taken on too much, but in reality all I actually do is go to Viva once a week to train teachers, attend Kungwini twice a week to support disabled adults in the workshop and educational activities in the Children's home and tutor a grade 7 child two afternoons a week. Apart from swimming most mornings, daily dog walks and food shopping and coffees out, there's no real reason why I should be over doing things, especially since the kids left home in January.

Volunteering costs money, almost a full time wage some months. I can't teach without resources and although I have plenty of stuff left over from my the days when I had a career, it needs adapting, updating. I've already donated the stuff the kids left behind that they no longer wanted, such as clothes, toys and stationery. I'm also very imaginative and creative with making my own resources but it's become very time consuming. Do you know how long it takes to draw/write 46 worksheets or colouring in pictures? I make and sell buntings and bags to raise funds and blog to raise awareness.

But what happens is I see something, get an idea and run with it. This involves raising funds, phone calls, emails, writing proposals, visiting people, cold calling. I used to make medical rep appointments with Doctor's surgeries and hospitals so I'm not easily deterred.

The last 3 nights I've been burning the candle at both ends, up till gone midnight working on several projects, researching, contacting other charities, writing sponsorship proposals. It's almost become a full time job and I could do with hiring a PA.

What I really need to do is focus though on what I can do and do well. Pick a subject, a project, a facility and run with that and that alone.

I've decided that my 'thing' is education. Without education the other issues in South Africa can't be addressed, it's not just about educating the children in the townships in school, it's about educating their parents also.

Without education the issues of poverty, crime, AIDS, rape, homelessness, child abuse and exploration cannot be addressed. Throwing money and donations of food at people does not help in the long run, the more you give the less people do for themselves, the more they rely on handouts.

People need to learn to help themselves, it's evident after a visit to Mamelodi this week that no one helps these people and no one helps them to help themselves. The river flooded a week ago, there is no way to cross it, it has left people stranded, unable to buy food, get to work and earn money and for children to get to school, missing even more of their education.

I'm up to date now with my 'to do' list and I'm just waiting responses for my proposals, but in the meantime I'm going away for a few days this weekend to switch off and relax.

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