Have you ever thought about those faceless people that answer the phone when you phone Lifeline, when you phone SADAG, or when you click the link to communicate with someone from a group like The Shackz?
Most people that reach out do not think about the women and men that do volunteer councilling. We are just there when we are needed. And this is by no means a post to moan and complain. Far from it. It is just an attempt to show people out there things from our perspective.
Most volunteer councillors have day jobs, which they have to balance with their volunteer work. Some also have spouses and family that have needs and requires time and attention. Some that I know from being online with them are battling debillitating or terminal diseases. Yet, when that phone rings, or that whatsapp message comes through when someone reaches out, there they will be. Ready to listen, to motivate, to make a client believe that life is worth the living. To make a rape survivor believe that the perpetrator has no more power over her even though the cops or justice system might have failed such victim.
These people will put their own issues aside to be there for the next person.
And yes, we also have issues. We are only human. We are not superheroes that fly through life untouchable and immune to human problems and issues.
Yet we do this day after day, trying to help people be the best version of themselves. And sometimes we succeed. And we get good feedback, and that is all reward we want. That text message, or voicenote thanking us makes it all worthwhile.
But sometimes we are too late, or we get into a situation where the client just needs someone to say goodbye to. Those times we feel that we failed. And the fact that no person is ultimately responsible for the decision of anybody else is no consolation when a client shoots himself while on a skype session with a counsillor, or when a client sends that last text, and the next text from that number is a grieving next-of-kin confirming what you dreaded since the cleint went all quiet on you.
Those times we do not have anybody to cry to, to rant and rave at in blind anger at how unfair life can be. But we cope, and we carry on. And for this I can only say that volunteer councillors are a breed apart. And that they deserve every thank you they get. And that they are proof that there is still some good in the big bad world out there.