Ermas Report about her volunteering service at Lebens(t)raum e.V. in Halle/Saale

My name is Erma Andrić. I come from Bosnia and Herzegowina and I am a volunteer in Lebenstraum e.V. I'd like to introduce my everyday routine at my place of assignment (POA), as well as what I have gone through so far and what helped or hindered me in volunteering there.

As a psychology student I applied for this POA to get some field experience about the things I read in books. With no experience in working with people with dissabilities before I was pretty excited about it all. It turned out that it was nothing like I expected it to be. I thought I would be doing some workshops or funny everyday activities with them but it ended up in taking care of their basic needs and helping them go through a day with the tasks they are not able to do themselves. In the WG 1 where I volunteer, there are 7 persons with dissabilities from which 3 are constantly in a wheelchair and one more periodically. And so it went for the first two to three months. My day was consistent of setting the table for drinking coffee, going grocery shopping, preparing dinner and cleaning afterwards and then assisting the clients by showering and preparing for bed. So the working time is from around 3-9 pm. There is also one client who tends to be agressive in certain situations and I had a very difficult time in dealing with him.

I felt frustrated and almost lost my motivation for volunteering. But then I decided to speak up and everything changed. I had more meetings with the coordinator in Friedenskreis e.V. and told everything that happend. My sending organisation also supported me and cooperated with Friedenskreis to solve everything for the best. We also had seminars where we were talking about our private life and POA all volunteers together, sharing experience and support. I also had a meeting with the coordinator and my mentor at POA together and afterwards almost every employee knew how I felt and started being even more supportive towards me than before. I also have to mention that every employee here is so open, warm and flexible and I made private connections with a few of them.

Also, besides my everyday work routine we have at least once or twice in a month organised trips around the city and city events. I laugh a lot with all of them and we have so much fun. I realised that everything takes time and effort, sometimes more than expected. In the end it always pays off in some way. You just have to take care of your needs, speak up and be flexible. One more thing is that you mustn't close up, have to make connections and some friends. Find hobbies, explore the city, country and enjoy !

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