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Volunteering at SHAPE - Help us Help Others!

We at S.H.A.P.E wish to thank past, present and future volunteers. We value your commitment and your sense of community. Below is an article written by one of our past volunteers, Reto, who visited St. Helena for the 2nd time earlier this year. Reto hails from Switzerland but lives in Germany.

We met Reto when he visited S.H.A.P.E during his holiday in 2019. He said that he would be back and true to his word, he offered a full month of his next "holiday" to volunteer at S.H.A.P.E a year later. His partner, Nadine joined him towards the end of his stay. This is Reto's story!

Thank you to Marianne and Dani for giving me this opportunity to write about my voluntary experience at S.H.A.P.E. I work in Europe with physically handicapped people. I came with experience of working with persons with special needs. I had many ideas from my work in Germany and hoped to get to use them with the trainees at S.H.A.P.E.

My first impression upon my arrival at SHAPE's Sandy Bay Head Centre was the very warm welcome from everyone - Staff and the Trainees. One could suppose that being a foreigner with an accent - English not being my home language, that they would have some reservations, but it was not like that. From the first day I was warmly welcomed and that made volunteering at S.H.A.P.E so easy.

Within a few days I learnt a lot about each Trainee and what each of them had to offer. Their enthusiasm and warmth towards me, made it easy and a pleasure to work with. Mercia and Shireen never tired of answering my (sometimes silly) questions. The more I learnt, the more I saw that the Trainers have a special tailored way for each individual, focusing on their abilities, rather than their inabilities.

Saint Helena, being a remote island, resources are sometimes not available, but the creativity of the staff has no limits. As a volunteer worker.

I worked with the Trainees. I enjoyed working with them on a variety of their daily work activities, like working with flax, aloe, created some jewellery and playing games, jigsaw puzzles with the clients.

Yes, I did m

any things with "MY" clients. Walking down the road to visit the two ladies at Thorpes Shop in Sandy Bay with Coban I will surely never forget. On our walks, we would listen to German music on my mobile. One day he took me by the hand and made me run in time to the music. So we ran to the shop where Coban was happy to get a Kit Kat. Meanwhile I was too exhausted to talk to the ladies at the shop.

Long story short (as Mercia always says), my time at S.H.A.P.E was one of the greatest experiences I ever had. I learnt in the very short time I spent at S.H.A.P.E what teamwork really means. Another fact that impressed me was that we talk about social inclusion of our handicapped people, but on Saint Helena they really are!

Thank you for all I have learnt in such a short time. I would love to return and double the time on your lovely island!!!"

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