Apart from my cat and my parrot, I live alone. They are actually great company. My cat is a lap cat and my parrot talks away. I had my parrot from 6 months old and my cat from a kitten, so we are a close family.
I haven’t always lived alone. My husband and I separated and divorced a few years ago and my kids have since gone onto college and university.
I was ok with it, I like my own space and I live a busy life. I work in a youth hostel working with challenged and disadvantaged kids.
The kids were amazing. Most of them had nothing, monetarily anyway. A lot of them were from broken homes, with one or no parents. A few had been abused, on drugs, in gangs and had generally had a rough time in their relatively short lives.
My job was to help them through it. Break any of the mental blocks they had and to help them push their lives forward.
The gang members were a challenge. It was hard for them, as there was so much peer pressure from other gang members but I was never there to judge, just to listen and to help.
As I am so caring, the challenge for me is to not take on the kids pain and believe me, there was a lot of it. I had been doing this type of work for over 10 years and I was pretty good at it. I was always careful to leave the issues of the day at my front door and get on with my own day.
Coaching young guys through their issues when they have had no role models to look up to or all they know is drugs or abuse is the biggest challenge I face, as their reality is a little different to most people’s. I find the most valuable thing I can give them is my time, listening and proffering a point of view. Most of these kids have never had a person look them in the eye, talk to them like actual human beings and treat them with respect, let alone try and help them. The simple things are always the most effective with the kids.
It Really Works
Working with the kids in this way really makes a difference. Over the time I have been doing this job, I have seen the kids grow from challenged kids with authority issues and few role models, growing into young leaders in their own communities and going on to assist with the work that myself and the team are doing.
The kids getting involved in this work is vital to making a difference in the communities where there are gangs and drug issues, because they have been there and know what is happening first hand. The kids trust them and relate to them and are more likely to want to change their lives if they see what can be done and how you can turn things around from people who have done it. I have seen it. trust me it works.
We had a few superstars who not only turned their lives from despair and spells in prison to speaking on stage in schools, coaching kids all around the world, spreading the word and effecting change. Some had set up social media support groups, counselling groups, coaching companies and some became social workers. It really was a privilege and an honor to see these guys grow into leaders and pass on the baton.
I had a friend who worked for the UN and she said a senior position had become available at their US HQ that was 10 minutes away from me. The position was coaching and counselling kids on a grander scale and helping to devise the UN policy for youth matters. Apparently, they already knew who I was, I had been in the local newspapers and had become a bit of a minor celebrity in my community. I was always a bit uncomfortable with the plaudits as I believe that while people are saying that helping others is special, it won’t be thought of as normal and my aim was to get the whole community involved to make this kind of thing normal. Helping others is something we should do as a matter of course, it isn’t extraordinary, we should all want to do it.
Anyway, I was invited to apply for the UN position.
I did the interview and I got the job. It was an amazing position. I could help to make a change for kids on a worldwide scale. It was a dream for me and I knew how much I could do to help.
The sad day came when I had to tell the kids I was leaving. Of course they already knew. I wanted to leave quietly with no fuss but my colleagues had arranged a party for me.
The guys had bought me a parrot cage from: http://www.petssensation.com/parrot-cages/ over the course of time, I had mentioned my parrot. I had even brought him in to meet the kids. They had noticed that his cage was old and scuffed. It was adequate but I never had time to go shopping, let alone to buy a new cage. The guys were so sweet to do this.
They also bought me a bracelet with charms, it was beautiful. They knew the kind of thing I liked and I was truly touched.
I was so sad to leave the guys but I knew the place was in safe hands. The young leaders that were assisting with the coaching were more than capable of taking over.
I absolutely knew my new job was the right move for me and I could help more kids, in more companies and make more of a change in the world than I ever dreamed was possible.
This was the most amazing opportunity and I would embrace it with both hands. Let’s do this!