I have found a new friend.
In just a short period of time, this person has become very dear to me.
I have for a long time felt a desire to help a fellow human, to do some kind of volunteer work. During the last few years I’ve come in contact with several children and youth, who has experienced some kind of struggles in their lives. This has tugged at my heart strings quite strongly. Although I’ve often felt unable to help in any specific way, just lending a listening ear has earned a trust and created a stronger bond between us.
About a year ago, I read a story in the local paper about two people spending time together as friends, a teenage girl and an adult woman. These two persons had met through a local organisation that offers an “own buddy” system, matching an adult volunteer with a family where there’s a child or teenager who is missing an adult role model in their life.
I immediately knew that this was for me, contacted the OmaKamu (OwnBuddy) organisation and signed up. Went through a 15 hour class and background check. I was ready to go and very excited!
Because of different reasons it took quite awhile before my Own Buddy was found. After an initial meeting with a mother together with the organisation representative, the three of us agreed to meet again with her son in a park in early September. I have to admit I was more nervous than going on a first date!
A bit shy at first sight, the blond 6-year old boy was cautiously hiding behind his mother. After a minute he pulled a soccer ball out of his backpack and was ready for a kick-off! Sitting down in the grass for a break he wanted to show me his soccer card collection. While having a snack we talked about everything and nothing, like lifelong friends.
Since then we have met almost every week for a few hours of different activities. A couple of weeks ago we spent a long Saturday in the forest, together with a large group of other OwnBuddy teams playing, hiking, bbq-ing, exploring, pizza baking etc. Just having a fabulous time.
On the drive home, both of us exhausted, he exclaims; “We could be friends for the rest of our lives”
“Yes buddy, I would like that”!
During these last months with him, I’ve often thought about what this means to him and to me. I know for sure that to me it gives me way more than it takes. In fact, the only thing it takes from me is my time. I have 24 hours in a day. What would I do with these few hours every month instead of spending them with this sweet and exciting kid? Probably waste them on some silly, useless thing. Being lazy.
What does it give to me? Tremendous satisfaction. The broad smile on his face when we now meet, the tight hug around my neck from behind while we together dive to the bottom of the swimming pool, his lip-smacking sounds while eating a cheeseburger. Invaluable moments.
But most of all, knowing that I maybe somehow can make some kind of an impact on a young life, being a friend and a role model to a kid whose life did not start out on a level playing field. Priceless.
Soon enough I’ll introduce him to the art of knitting.
Happy International volunteer day! 🙂
PS. If you’ve ever thought of doing volunteer work, wondering what it’s like, give it a shot. Helping someone in need will never make you feel bad.