Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Looking for Playmates

My happiness in finding a volunteer for Nasri's playroom timewas short-lived when she received her offer to go to college and is reporting this Thursday. Oh, yes, I am happy for her, very happy, actually but now I need to find a replacement to fill the gap!

Finding volunteers to work with a child like Nasri is not easy. When I was first told at the start-up course that I attended a year ago, that my programme would depend a lot on getting people to help me in the playroom, I was quite stumped. No lah, sceptical, more like it. I did not know of any one who would volunteer to come play at home with kids. Especially kids on the spectrum, like Nasri. It is very different from in the States where volunteering seems like a big thing! In fact, all my friends from the States seemed to have no qualms at all in finding people who would come to their homes, be part of their teams and work with their children! Wow, I thought..how would I ever do that in Malaysia?? They told me to ASK - if you ask, you may get. If you don't - you definitely won't get anything.

And so I asked - and I found that yes, there are very kind people around. I have now two people who come to our house to play with Nasri and run my programme with me and are doing a great-great job. God bless them both, I am supremely lucky to have them both!

Now two volunteers is nothing to brag about. My pals in the States have teams of 8 to 10 people!! And I have only two (if you include bibik and myself - we make four! yaay?) I have to say though, finding volunteers in Malaysia is not an easy thing. This may be an exaggeration, considering I haven't scouted the whole of Malaysia! I have asked our therapists if they know people, I have asked at centers where Nasri goes to, if anyone was willing, but the response seems dismal. Some appear sceptical... Like, "what?? Come to your house and spend time with a kid? That kid?" SO yes, although I have volunteers, many who have been asked aren't so accepting.
I don't blame them. Not many people know about the spectrum. The kids can be seen as highly weird, slightly retarded and just simply abnormal. That scares them. It requires some education - teaching people about the spectrum - and hey, we have a long way to go. And therefore, as much as I may whine, that is the reality of it. SO I keep telling myself that my role is to keep on educating whenever the chance arises.
Then again, there are people who would come and volunteer - BUT they may not be suitable for the job. The job takes patience and a lot of understanding. And in our programme it takes the 3Es : Energy, Enthusiasm and for the life of me, as I type I just can't recall the last E!! Yikes! So then comes the issue of selecting and monitoring your volunteers. How do you find good ones, how do you train them, how do you keep them motivated, how do you keep them on track? It's hard, and I ain't doing great in many areas with my volunteers in many aspects especially keeping them motivated. Some days are good, some days are bad. In the first place - how do I keep MYSELF motivated? So much for the 3Es huh?

Sigh. I'm beginning to wonder where this post is leading to. Anyways - volunteering is good. It's FUN- if you like kids,. and if you can tolerate a mommy like me, who can be such a pensyarah bebas when it comes to this. SO , since I am 6 hours short with my playroom time, I guess, I might as well ask...


ps. To Ena who is starting college this Thursday - all the best and enjoy!! I know that you'll be the best nurse in the whole wide world. And thanks for everything you've helped us with. We'll miss you!


Blogger Queen Of The House said...

Anedra ... you are a very determined mom. I surely wish all the best for you. I don't think it is easy, as in the US, say ... to get volunteers the likes you are looking for. Apa criteria, by the way? And I am curious too, does Nasri interact better with children? Would other children be of help in your programme?

I am sometimes quite disappointed that 'normal' children are not very receptive of/exposed to/understanding of children with disabilities. Even at schools with normal classes and Special Ed classes, you'd find it rare for the 'normal' students to be mixing around with these children. or even tolerating/understanding them. Sometimes they have no idea what these disabilities there.

11:03 PM  
Blogger anedra said...

Hey there Yr Royal Hi-ness!

How are you? Am fine, and about to pop in around 2 months!

Criterias for volunteers? Likes children, open-minded, fun, having some creativity wd be good, good facial expression, patient and lots of energy!

NAsri does interact better with other kids. He initiates play (but of course - play is still his way of playing..lots of jumping around and rough and tumble) now. Then again, his play with kids is limited to his brother, cousins and some of his classmates. Other children would be of help - but they normally dont have the persistence, meaning pateince to spend an hour in the room with Nasri. I dont blame them..it's good enough when I get kids to come in for 10 minutes at a time. Nasri loves it.

You're right - a lot of educating is needed. It helps if school teachers and parents help explain to the children on special kids..There's a long way to go there!!

Take care u!

9:38 PM  

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