Marina Middelplaats spent a year as a volunteer, (sponsored by Hands On Lay Mission Trust) working with the Sisters of Compassion to research out the needs in the Wellington area. Asking the question “Is the outreach work of the Sisters of Compassion and their volunteers needed?” The following are some of her reflections.

Her quick answer was “Yes!”

She finds the isolation and loneliness among the elderly, the sick and those tied to the home with children are central problems. Marina says many are without telephones. In the case of the elderly many of their friends have died so they have no-one to call anyway. They have little money to the extent that many spend their lives in bed.

“People are still in bed in the afternoon with all their clothes on because it is so cold and they have no money for heating.”

Others are suffering because of neighbour’s behaviour yet they feel powerless to do anything about it.

She says for these people a simple visit and some practical help can turn a life of isolation and fear into one of joy. Marina sees life for many psychiatric patients discharged from hospitals as empty and frustrating. Abandoned by the community, many are preyed upon by the unscrupulous while others are just left. They lose track of and stop taking medication which leads to further problems.

There are similar stories of isolation and powerlessness for the refugee families she has come into contact with. She says many are well qualified, highly educated people but they can’t find work because their qualifications are not accepted here. Others are having trouble adjusting to the climate and culture. She says these are not bludgers or rich immigrants but people fleeing for their lives who are now trying to start again with their children. For all these people there has been one common theme to Marina’s visits. It might just be Marina doing her research, but the knock on the door and the smiling face brings them hope. For the first time in who-knows-how-long there is someone not selling anything, not blaming anyone, not wanting anything – just offering.

Article courtesy of Marist Messenger 1995