Category Archives: Volunteering

Josie and her Family at Raphael

 

We went as a family to volunteer at Raphael (Ryder Cheshire Foundation) in Dehradun, India. It was Molly’s idea which then took hold.

Molly (20), was on summer holidays from university, Roland (17), had just finished school and did not wish to take a gap year but accepted this challenge; I was eligible for long service leave from Maternal and Child Health Nursing and Rick, a self-employed builder, could manage his time. As well as volunteering with special needs children and assisting with a humanitarian orgaisation, we hoped to experience India in a true and meaningful way.

As Raphael was closed for Christmas holidays, our month of volunteering there would start mid-January. So, we planned three weeks of travel and sight-seeing beforehand. It was winter time in India. Our journey started in Kolkata so that we could spend a few days with our old exchange student, Deeksha, and her family. They were wonderfully hospitable and introduced us to the food of West Bengal, took us to a wedding celebration and to New Year’s Eve events in Kolkata. It was a happy start to our holiday.

Then, we travelled by train across the country and north to Dehradun, stopping at some places of interest en route. The trains seemed to be plagued by long delays due to fog, the platforms were shockingly crowded, but once on board the journeys were comfortable enough. We stopped at Parasnath Hill for a 20 km hike up and down hill on a Jain pilgrimage. Then to Gaya and Bohdi Gaya along with many Buddhist pilgrims to see the place where the Buddha found enlightenment. Next stop was Varanasi on the Ganges, a holy city for Hindus and a very interesting place. Finally, we reached Agra with its amazing history and buildings in particular; the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. We also visited a sloth bear sanctuary at Agra (SOS Wildlife, India) for rescued “dancing bears”, a cruel practice which is now prohibited. Finally, we had a short stay in Delhi before the last leg of the journey, six hours by train, to Dehradun.

Those three weeks of travelling were our introduction to India with its brightly coloured clothing and exotic styles of dress, spicy foods, stalls of luscious fruit and beautiful craftwork. We felt stunned by the crowds; the honking, chaotic, nightmarish traffic, fog and air pollution, delayed trains, beggars, poverty, rubbish and requests for selfies. Despite great care, we were all sick at various times.

Feeling a little dazed and amazed, we arrived safely at Dehradun. Raphael seemed like a green oasis at the edge of town, merging into the forest. I liked the space and the old colonial style buildings. We were warmly welcomed and we quickly felt part of the scene. Though what a strange coincidence to travel so far and to find that the other volunteer there, Kim, was from our home town of Ballarat!! Three weeks later, two young men from England on their gap year joined us to swell the number of volunteers to seven.

There is a very positive air and a sense of community spirit about Raphael. We felt accepted as part of a large family and quite at home with all the new people we met. Our volunteer work was mainly Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm and we could choose our area of work. I enjoyed spending time at physiotherapy and the workshops but mostly worked with a class of 10 to 14 year olds. Molly and I were lucky to go out for a day with the Community Based Programme (CBP), visiting schools and a few homes with a physiotherapist and a specialist educator. Molly worked in a class with high needs children of primary school age and Roland assisted with 12 to 18 year olds and in the office. Rick offered to do repair work and word spread quickly, so that he was kept busy fixing broken chairs, tables, doors and taps. He ended up painting one of the buildings and became familiar with the local hardware shops.

The day started with breakfast at 8am. Three delicious meals were served up for us daily by Hari, the cook. At 9am, the children and staff gathered in the playground for assembly. Their singing was beautiful and the national anthem, sung so lustily, with hand on heart, was very moving. My favourite part of the day was the supervised walk around the grounds before lessons. There seemed to be few language barriers, perhaps because many of the children could not speak or had only a few words and were used to communcating non-verbally. They were delightful company. The disabilities of the children were mostly cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, microcephaly and deafness. Most of the children are from poor families and have few possessions, but seemed entirely satisfied with their lot. They could teach us all a lesson in living in the present, in the joy of life and in gratitude for simple things. It was rather humbling.

After school we often wandered into town to explore and have a cup of chai. There were places of interest and beauty to visit at weekends: Moussourie, a hill station in the foothills of the Himalayas; Rishikesh on the Ganges, made famous by the Beatles in the 1960s; Rajaji Tiger Reserve and Haridwar, a town of Hindu pilgrimage. Our month at Raphael came to an end too quickly.

Would I recommend volunteering as a family at Raphael? For the right individuals, I would say definitely, yes. If you can cope with India, which I feel is more confronting than many other developing countries. Raphael is the safe haven. Travel broadens the mind and is an education in itself. We have come home with many shared experiences and funny memories. Volunteering involves being willing to give your time and energy, being adaptable, expecting nothing in return and coming away feeling enriched. We would like to thank Ryder-Cheshire Australia for this great opportunity and for all the wonderful work that goes on at Raphael.
Josie Calvert.

Vale Danny Standish of RCF Victoria

Danny died suddenly and peacefully on Wednesday 14th March 2018.

Danny joined Ryder-Cheshire when the new home was started in Timor-Leste in late 2000. Initially she helped with sorting and packing donated goods ready for despatch to Klibur Domin. Subsequently she spent six weeks there as a volunteer, arriving a few days after Christmas 2000. Her nursing skills were put to good use setting up medical procedures and records and she is pictured here admitting the first patients to Klibur Domin on 31 January 2001.

Danny was an important member of the Ryder-Cheshire Foundation Victoria team, always positive, cheerful and very capable, and was active right up until her death. Her contribution involved support for many fund-raising endeavours, including her special project, organising visits to the Costume Collection. She also took on being the official archivist and spent many hours sorting, conserving and cataloguing a jumble of archival material – now in apple pie order. Of great importance in her life were her beloved daughters and grand-children. Danny was loved and is sadly missed. Rest in Peace

Vale Sr Mary Myers CSB

 

Sr Mary Myers passed away suddenly and quietly on 30 July 2017.

Sr Mary was Houseparent (Resident Carer) at the Ryder-Cheshire Victorian Homes and is well remembered by past residents as a compassionate, yet strong and decisive person.

Her first period at the home was from January 1990 to August 1995. This was followed by a period of sabbatical leave during which she visited Raphael and spent time in the UK at Cavendish, working with Sue Ryder and serving at other homes in the UK. Mary returned to Ivanhoe from January 1997 – April 2002 when she retired.

Soon after retiring she went to Klibur Domin as a volunteer. Unfortunately, a broken leg meant a trip back to Australia to recover, then she returned to Klibur Domin for a further short period in 2003.

In 2004 Mary assisted for a short time in WA as House-mother at the Perth Barbara Seabrook House. Her assistance being greatly appreciated by the RCF WA Foundation.

Mary subsequently provided continuing support to Ryder-Cheshire on the Op Shop roster at Mount Waverley, was an asset to the Ryder-Cheshire team at fund-raising trivia nights, and maintained her connection with the Victorian Homes.

Mary’s life epitomised the spirit of Ryder-Cheshire and we miss her presence and staunch support.

“MY RAPHAEL EXPERIENCE”

 by Mar,  from USA

I arrived in India on the second week of January 2017 ready to make true one of my dearest dreams; serve others as a volunteer.

I was so excited after receiving acceptance from Ryder- Cheshire Australia of my offer to volunteer in the Raphael Centre in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. There were a few months of expectation waiting for the day to take a plane from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA to fly to the other side of the world.

After four days in New Delhi sightseeing, trying delicious food and adjusting to cold weather, I took the train to Dehradun and reached Raphael after a seven hour trip.

A Warm Welcome

I had a warm welcome from the staff on duty as well as the Volunteers’ Coordinator who made me feel at home right away. During the following fourteen weeks I was able to enjoy attending the morning assembly for prayers, learning The National Anthem and songs, helping teachers in the classrooms, especially Primary II Class, sharing with the most lovely students, participating in music and sport classes, engaging with children in the playground and learning the daily routine in the Day Centre.

I also had the opportunity to volunteer within the Psychology Department, the Rehabilitation Workshop and complete recreational activities with Ava Vihar residents in the afternoons.

The special activities

The special activities were also an amazing experience; The Republic Day Ceremony, the colourful Holi celebration and all the practices to participate in two programs during the Founders’ Day Event as well as helping the children and staff in a day Health Check Camp and the three day camp for Free Artificial Limbs and Polio Callipers.

After the weekday activities were completed, there was time for sightseeing at the weekends. I visited many significant places including Clement Town, Rishikesh, Mussoorie, Hardwar,  Chandigarh and Amritsar.

This was the best experience in my life! And forever Raphael and India are in my heart!

Thanks Raphael and Ryder-Cheshire Australia for the opportunity

The 19th Biennial Conference is over

Delegates at the Conference

Over ninety delegates have made their way back to their homes in Timor-Leste, India, New Zealand and across Australia. We have been informed, challenged, inspired, and entertained.
Ryder-Cheshire is an inclusive family and an important function of the Conference is that of family reunion, and a welcome to new supporters. Those who normally communicate by email and telephone have been together for hugs and handshakes, and in-depth discussion that is not possible by other means.
We were fortunate indeed to have a beautiful venue, Hillsley, a former church which is part of the Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School campus, on the outskirts of Melbourne. Our heartfelt thanks to the School for making it available to us.
In conjunction with the Conference, Ryder-Cheshire Australia also held it’s Annual General Meeting, and a General Meeting of the Board, with all members present plus valuable input from Klibur Domin Managing Director, Sr Joaquim Soares and Raphael Chief Executive Officer, Brig Anil Sinha (Retd). The Board also welcomed observers Carolyn Tapley, RCF New Zealand, and John Kirby RCF SA.

Some highlights of the conference:
In the opening address by Dr Heather Schnagl AM, ‘ Never Too Young for Philanthropy ‘, she described the openness of young people to becoming engaged in philanthropy if approached in the right way, and the success she has achieved with her students in this respect. Dr Schnagl, is the immediate Past Principal of Ivanhoe Girls’ School and a “Friend of Ryder-Cheshire”. Indeed, lots of ideas for Ryder-Cheshire to pursue.

The lovely Conference room at Hillslea, which was formerly a Presbyterian Church and has been restored by the School.

We watched informative Power Point and video updates from Anil (from Raphael) and Joaquim (from Klibur Domin) about progress and developments at Raphael and Klibur Domin respectively.
Very important, as the overseas homes are the primary focus of the work and fundraising of Ryder-Cheshire Australia. Carolyn Tapley briefed us on developments in New Zealand.
Several overseas volunteers – Robyn Leeder, Christian Hiss, and Patricia McDonell, described their experiences at Raphael and Klibur Domin respectively. It is clear that for most volunteers these placements are life transforming, and for some become a long-term
commitment.

Saturday afternoon was engaged in a Workshop
“Vision 2025”, with facilitator Robert Gardiner. President Rory introduced his own vision which was followed by 3-minute presentations from all Foundations defining the challenges they see ahead. The delegates broke into small groups to explore ways to meet the challenges. The outcomes from the group work will provide a platform for the Ryder-Cheshire Australia Board and all committees to plan the way forwards.
The afternoon finished with a live interview with Tessa West, author of “Lady Sue Ryder of Warsaw: Single- minded Philanthropist.”, who joined us by interactive Skype from the United Kingdom. She shared many interesting observations and insights about Sue Ryder.

The Guest speaker at the Saturday night Conference Dinner was The Hon Tim Fischer AC, and what a treat that was !
From his perspective as an observer at the 1999 election when the people of Timor Leste chose independence, Tim talked about Timor Leste’s journey to statehood. He drew parallels with the Western Front of WWI, and went on to describe the role of Sir John Monash in the final months of the war. He finished by donating his book of railway adventures, “Trains Unlimited” for auction in support of Klibur Domin. It raised $250 on the spot! The audience showed its appreciation for Tim’s excellent speech and generous
gesture.

Tony McLennan, Melanie Williams and Carole McLennan of our new RCA supporter group in Traralgon, Gippsland.

A beautiful quilt designed, made and donated by Carole McLennan, was the object of a silent auction which raised a wonderful $800 !
Sunday morning held another treat with the showing of precious historical film footage from the early days of Raphael, tracked down by Hugh Elphinstone and Anne and Phillip Boyd. Proceedings wrapped up with a Q & A session which provoked interesting discussion and moved us further along the path of renewal.

Just a few need special mention:
Rory McEwen, President of Ryder-Cheshire Australia, for his energy, wisdom and leadership.

Terry Warr (RCA Website and Communications Co-ordinator) and Mike Moignard (President RCF Victoria)

Mike Moignard, Convenor of the Victorian Conference Working Group, and Master of Ceremonies and moderator for the Conference, and his team.
Terry Warr, computer and electronics whizz who managed the audio-visual aspects with such calm competence.
Sr Jane Gorey and committee members, staff and volunteers at the Victorian Homes for their warm welcome and ‘nothing is too much trouble’ support.

And a Very Special Mention: Evelyn Petters

Evelyn Petters (left) and Anthea Swann (RCF National Secretary). Evelyn has edited the Red Feather for the past sixteen years and after 36 issues she has resigned from the post. At the Conference, guest speaker The Hon Tim Fischer AC presented Evelyn with a Certificate of Appreciation from RCA.

Our best wishes go to Mount Gambier who will host the next Biennial Conference in 2020.

The Victorian Conference Working Group:
Mike Moignard, Don Hamilton, Peter McConnell, Kathy Oswin, Anthea Swann, and Barrie William.

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