My Raphael Family

Karen COWTONI have been asked to submit an article about my time at Raphael in October/November 2014 but I just don’t know where to start.  My 19 yr old daughter and I spent almost two months at Raphael so you would think I could come up with something.  My fear is not being able to do Raphael justice  in  just one short article. I have thought of every excuse under the sun not to write the article but here I am attempting to write it none the less.

To sum up my experience in India all I can come up with is it was a sensory overload, the noises, the smells, the tastes, the sights and above all else the emotions.

I had heElephantard from many people that a volunteer experience like this can be a life changing event but I had no idea how true that is, I view my self as fairly level headed and sensible person and working as a mental health support worker I thought I had seen my fair share of life’s injustices and the ability of people to rise above these until I spent time at Raphael.

If I was asked to describe my experience using just one word I would choose the word ‘family’. Raphael felt like a very large loving family. The children at Raphael were accepting of us and they were enthusiastic and eager to be in our company; the teachers  and staff were so warm and welcoming and went out of their way to make us feel at home. I had a sense at Raphael that all were equal from the children, the staff, the volunteers through to the Brigadier – we were all just part of the one big happy family.

GraceWe were fortunate to have a large group of volunteers at Raphael, nine of us in total.  We ranged in age from nineteen through to almost eighty; we came from different corners of the world and amongst our professions we had a student, a journalist, a bishop, a fireman, several community service workers and even a vegetarian and a vegan (just pointing out our differences) but somehow we all just seemed to fit and work together just like a family.

Some of the staff and other volunteers we became very close to.  This became apparent when it was time to say our goodbyes – the floods of unexpected tears were evidence of this!

My advice to anyone considering a stay at Raphael is no other experience could make you appreciate how very fortunate we are in Australia and how much we take for granted.  The experience will enrich your life and expand your family as you can’t help but become part of the Raphael Family, it’s just what happens.