In preparation for the trip to Rhinesberg, a fellow volunteer shared that a Jumbulance trip is also a holiday for volunteers. I was sceptical about this, as I wondered how can it possibly be a holiday when you will be caring for someone? However, it has been almost a week now since my trip and I completely understand what they meant. Yes, you are caring 24/7 for people and yes it is hard work, but it is equally fulfilling, rewarding and most of all fun, with one of the most striking sounds from the holiday being laughter.
Our week in Rhinesberg was peppered with many extraordinary moments; from trips to Potsdam and Berlin to archery. We became quite accustomed to having lunch in palatial gardens and if I am honest I am finding it quite difficult to adjust to having my lunch in a boring office again. However, the simpler activities are the ones to have truly imprinted on me, as I never realised how much I take for granted swimming or riding my bike, or even simple necessities such as the ability to jump into the shower without thinking or planning. During my week with the Jumbulance I had the pleasure of caring for a lovely woman, who due to her illness and lack of a wet room had for a long time been unable to enjoy the simple pleasure of a shower, and she taught me the extraordinary power of soap and water.
That word extraordinary is key, as since returning from the trip, my family, friends and colleagues have all been asking how the experience was. The experience was extraordinary, I saw some extraordinary places and met extraordinary people who I now class as part of my adopted Jumbulance family and I honestly cannot wait to take part in another trip in the future. But the surprising thing is, the extraordinariness of the trip lies in its ordinariness. Having the time to talk leisurely over a long coffee, breakfast, lunch or dinner, to stop and take the time to chat with someone who society would deem as mute due to conversing more by touchscreen than by voice, and to be able (due to having the facilities and support around) to give someone the time to have a long leisurely shower, where they “feel cleaner than they have in years”.
In a society constantly in motion, where people rush past, crush into and hush everyone, especially those who are not seen as normal (whatever that may be – and in truth and I myself until around two weeks ago was one of these self-same people), the Jumbulance gives us what should be ordinary but is an extraordinary gift – the gift of time. Time for relaxation, time for laughter, time for love, time to meet new people – in short time to stop and realise what is important and what is actually going on around us, and this gift of time and the realisations that have come with it is something I will treasure forever. Leighanne Higgins, First time volunteer