CALLED BY MOTHER
By Bernard Sim, Volunteer
IN THE BEGINNING
One Sunday after attending 11am Mass, while on the way to lunch, a call came through asking me to transport some heavy items.
I did not want to reject Peter’s request as he has been to me, a model of charity. As I was ordering our food, I asked if he could wait. True to his nature he waited.
After picking up the heavy items, we headed for the CARE Shelter. I realized that it is the same group I had previously helped as a driver. Peter explained that the item I ferried was a marquee for our Lady. It dawned on me that perhaps our Lady was calling me to volunteer at Care. But I hesitated for a few weeks.
I have helped in distributing food rations to the needy in Karimun. But this was totally different from helping out at an AIDS shelter. I had some doubts, at first.
However, after praying over the matter, I finally found the courage to propose starting a hydroponics garden for CARE. This project could provide fresh vegetables for their own consumption. More importantly, it would allow the residents to do something and feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment. The staff at Care were supportive and I embarked on the new project in 2015. Over the years, I have had opportunities to help out in other areas as well.
My Experiences and Learning at Care
At first the residents were reserved and a bit shy. Slowly, as they got to know me better, they began to open up about themselves. I began to understand their plight and challenges.
I realized that, like me, they have aspirations, they want to be able to support themselves, they want to have friends. We talked about the daily grind of life, their financial difficulties, family issues etc. I tried my best to respond with encouraging words and positive actions. Gradually, I learnt to listen more and talk less. I realized that what they sometimes need is just to have someone hear them out. The most difficult part is the feeling of not being able to do more for them.
In my conversations with the staff, I learnt about their mission and the rationale for the various programmes that they have put in place for the residents. The cottage industry which includes candle and rosary making, gives the residents a sense of responsibility, purpose and fulfillment.
Through Care I also learnt about the Church mission of Charity – Not only by faith but by deeds too in obedience to the Word of God to glorify Him.
I saw that Aids patients are no different from me in that they have aspirations and they face challenges and struggles on a daily basis. Like me, they need that little help to stay motivated and continue to live life with purpose. What CARE does is to be the face of God’s love to them and give them the hope to carry on.
I also learnt to overcome my own fears. I have got rid of any misconception and prejudices that I previously had.
I enjoy volunteering at CARE and hope to do so for a long time more. I will live by this verse of our Lord’s prayer – ”Thy will be done on Earth as it is Heaven”