Today I learned about humility. When you are a white middle class teenage girl (or anyone really though the white middle class is especially good at this) it's easy to see yourself as a "saviour" (a great example of this is How Not to Write About Africa). I have to say I was like that when I learned I would be participating in a habitat for humanity project. It's easy to get a swollen head when people are telling you how great it is that you are doing this, the gift that you are giving someone.
Yes I am giving the gift of my time, I am making a small small contribution.
I had to be reminded of that. We all have to be reminded of that.
Well sweeping for about eight solid hours will do that for you.
I did briefly use some power tools and I put up some drywall but basically it was solid sweeping. Picking up discarded pieces of wood and insulation. Cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning.
I must admit I complained. I bitched. But I got the job done. By the end of the day I was tired and covered in a thin layer of dust.
I was at a loss for what I had learned. What I had contributed.
It was only when I saw on my facebook page that another student was talking about how happy he was that he didn't go. That it was ridiculous to spend $50 dollars on a broom (all participants must raise $50 in pledges.)
That's when I saw the I's. That's when I realized that this day wasn't about being a saviour and it wasn't a waste of time.
Volunteering is simply about time. It's about effort and contributing no matter what the cost. It's about solitude sometimes and bonding with people others. It's about doing what is needed not what looks pretty. It's about giving everything you have whether it's your talents or simply some physical labour.
In a way it's about giving up and giving of yourself.
So I guess the only thing I'm left wondering is
What are we going to do next?