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esca handshake volunteers

by Natasha Scott, ESCA volunteer

My father-in-law’s two-year battle with cancer left him indigent. He was a successful lawyer with his own firm, a source of wisdom for his kids, a multi-marathon runner, and a volunteer for a community support group. For fun, he dabbled in the stock market and collected antique pens. Perhaps he smoked too much, or drank too much or perhaps genetics worked against him, but when cancer appeared and treatments began, he went from being independent and energetic to an emaciated version of his best self—too sick to work, to drive, unable to digest solid food, too tired to clean and sometimes bathe. His journey was not unique. Cancer can create a profound change in how you live, and it doesn’t give you a choice.

But my father-in-law was fortunate. He had many people in his life able to help him. Not everyone does and so thankfully there are associations like the English Speaking Cancer Association (ESCA) that can offer peer support for many patients who need help getting to appointments, filling prescriptions, grocery shopping or just walking the dog. However, peer support is not only for patients. It’s also there for the silent heroes who, either out of love or out of goodness, provide an unwavering support, for months or sometimes years, to someone diagnosed with cancer.

In Britain they’re called carers. In North America, they’re called caregivers. Collectively, they are the family, friends and neighbours who look after people who are ill. Many times care giving is a daunting role that one day is suddenly thrust upon them.

Jonathan Elzingre, RBL Swiss Branch Chairman (right) with James Pearsall, RBL Swiss Branch Committee Member (left) at the recent Expat-Expo fair in Geneva.

During the recent updating for the 10th Edition of Know-it-all passport®, we had a series of emails with the the Swiss Branch of the Royal British Legion. As we corresponded it became apparent that there are many potential areas of interest for our readers. Read on to find out more!

What is the Royal British Legion ?

The Royal British Legion, was founded in 1921 on the initiative of Field Marshal Earl Haig, following the First World War, which left thousands injured and scarred by their experiences. For those who returned home leaving millions dead, particularly on the battlefields of Northern France and Belgium, the world would never be the same. Haig’s aim was to provide dignity and self-respect through employment, particularly for the disabled.

There have been many casualties in conflicts since the two World Wars. The Legion is today the United Kingdom’s leading charity safeguarding the welfare, interests and memory of those who have served in the Armed Forces and their dependants. The Legion currently spends more than £73 million pounds providing welfare services and relieving distress. Support is given at every level – from advice about benefits to grants for household appliances, as well as the provision of nursing homes.

tryulybalance volunteering2

by Annette Ebbinhgaus, TrulyBalance

I had the pleasure to join some women recently on what I call a “back-to-rhythm” hike. It was a group of moms that I know through various friends and it was a quick little jaunt up and down La Dôle. A morning out to signal to our mind and body that the school year had begun again and it was time for us moms to get back to more of a rhythm.

This group was of course a group of expat women, some have been here for a long time, others not so long. We managed to cover many topics, and several in depth, as one does when you live this sort of transient life. We were quick to get to the good stuff in a conversation rather than stay on the surface. In this lifestyle we are never certain how long our friends will be living in the area so we make the most of every conversation.

volunteerICVolunteers, the international organization that recruits, trains and coordinates volunteers for a wide range of non-profit projects, is searching for volunteers for the forthcoming conference “Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction”.  

Taking place in Geneva from 8-13 May, 2011, this conference is now the world’s foremost gathering of stakeholders committed to reducing disaster risk and will bring together 2,000 policy makers and practitioners from government, international organizations, NGOs, academia, and the private sector, from both developing and developed countries.

As specialists in the field of communication, ICVolunteers is aiming to recruit about 80 volunteers to fulfil roles at the conference ranging from welcoming services, conference preparation, editing, reporting and translating.

This is a wonderful opportunity for motivated individuals to help others, offering their knowledge and experience to provide critical assistance to an important humanitarian project. At the same time, these individuals will also acquire new skills and grow both personally and professionally.  Anyone looking to enhance their professional experience with a view to finding new employment should find this project especially rewarding.

For this particular conference, ICVolunteers is looking for the following people:

•    57 Volunteers for Welcoming Services: to welcome; provide assistance; oversee the setup of session; prepare bags; liaise between staff etc...

•    16 Reporters, 2 Editors and 2 Photographers: to write, proofread and/or edit session reports; document conference events.

•    4 Translators: to translate documents during the event; Languages: Six U.N. languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian).

owitlgevent1If you’ve been out of the workplace for a few years or more, you may well be wondering how any potential employer will consider an application from you with such a gaping hole in your CV.  

Not only will you be missing essential skills that you would normally have acquired through the process of continuing professional development, but many employers will doubt your ability to be “on the ball”, and respond to work situations with the same speed and efficiency that you did before you embarked on your career break.

Obviously one of the simplest ways of addressing the skill shortage is to enrol on a suitable training course, in your field of work.  Getting up to speed with the necessary “technical” skills required for your job, will undoubtedly open up a few more doors – but the big snag here is cost.  Since many of these courses are run with professional organizations in mind, they can be very expensive, charging equally “professional” fees. Generally speaking, they don’t take into consideration the needs of applicants who have not had an income for several years.