Monday, 6 January 2020

Volunteering for the bushfires

is something that many people enthusiastically embrace - until they discover what volunteering actually means.
Yesterday one of the local men was complaining to me that they had turned down his offer to "volunteer". I asked him what he thought he would be able to do.
    "I don't know but they must have things I could do."
No mate, they don't. That isn't how volunteering works.  I wonder whether your will work it out this morning when you see the grim faces of farmers from other areas who have volunteered to go in and face the truly horrific task of shooting animals to put them out of their misery. It is something you need to know how to do and it isn't one I would wish on anyone.
You also need to know how to fight fires. When my brother and his partner moved out of the city to a smaller rural community last year my brother did the responsible thing. He joined the local rural fire service. He had just finished his initial training when the fires hit. He had not passed the essential certification. Trained? Yes. Certified? No. They can't use him even though they needed all the help they could get. He could volunteer to do other things though and they could use him to help neighbours prepare their properties because he knew what to do. The man complaining to me would have no idea.
He can't care for animals either. His wife might be able to help. She trained as a nurse - but she has her hands full dealing with young humans who aren't coping well with the smoke haze here. 
There are all sorts of other help which is needed but this man can't provide any of it. The only useful thing he could do is provide a donation .
I know a couple who were going to go on holiday but they have offered their caravan to people who have lost their home. That's practical help that was welcomed.
I know a retired vet who has gone back to work because someone called him and asked for advice. He went to look at the problem and they asked him to stay - more practical help that was needed and welcomed.
Volunteering is about giving help that is needed. It is not about getting in the way or thinking "I might be able to do something useful".  It is about knowing you can do something specific that is even more specifically needed. I will spend time today helping someone work their way through a maze of paperwork. It's the sort of thing I do in my working life and I know I can but I wouldn't offer to work in a situation which demanded skills I don't have.

1 comment:

Momkatz said...

Praying for the volunteer firemen and for all those who are suffering and in danger, human and animal. I wish I could share your posts with my fellow citizens. The horrific fires are being covered extensively in our media, but we are not getting the perspective that you are sharing. Heart breaking.