There’s a truck load of research that suggests one way to find contentment and fulfilment in life is to help others. This could be volunteering, showing compassion to someone in need or helping in your community. There are a myriad of benefits to be had from lending a helping hand; not only does connecting with others make us feel better about ourselves but it also actually strengthens our immune system and wait for it….. Prolongs our life! Yep those who regularly reach out to help others tend to live longer and more enriched lives.
But as anyone knows in today’s manic world that can sometimes be a bit of a stretch. Most weekends, I’m hard pushed to keep up with the laundry and ferry the children to their respective social engagements to pull my weight in our community. However this weekend I had a wonderful reminder of how good it feels to get involved again. I had volunteered to help at my 7 year old son’s school fete by running the dessert stall. That sounded so low key to me, I even packed my lap top in amongst the chocolate fudge cakes and lemon tarts, thinking I could knock off some work whilst sitting idly behind the heaving dessert display. Note to self: delusional!
Instead the day was a flurry of doling out sweet decadence to all and sundry….heavenly pistachio kulfis, tangy crumbly lemon cheesecakes that hummed on the tongue, creamy pannacottas oozing with raspberry coulis, soft velvety fist size Russian rum balls that like all things Russian not only kicked a punch but also left you reeling. All home made by a handful of mothers from the school, doubtlessly squeezed in between homework, paid work, housework and a few frazzled late night trips to the supermarket to get ingredients.
On the day I was helped by a beautiful band of international mothers who had volunteered not only to help the school’s fund raising efforts but also to get to know other parents. It was a subtle reminder of how often we take our place in our school society for granted, neither having to contend with a second language not trying to decipher the nuances of another culture. However dessert is clearly an international language because there were sugary smiles in abundance at the end of the day.
But there was a whole new wave of connection that had me welling up with emotion. Charlie’s tiny little school serves a unique population of not only international families but also hearing impaired children and those children who have hearing impaired parents. This is the school where the second language taught is Auslan (the Australian sign language). So this wasn’t your standard school fete…it was a meeting of the local deaf communities that revel in being together. Looking around all I could see were animated signing conversations, eyes fixed eagerly on the signers, not an iPhone screen in sight to distract anyone. Focused faces drinking in the chance to connect with others who navigate a similar world to their own. It was the type of connectedness that fuelled the social tank of all those involved.
The best thing was watching them applaud the children’s performances. No bemused faces idly clapping here, instead the signing version of clapping is to lift your hands up and twinkle your fingers as if little stars were raining down. How can you remain disconnected when doing that?🌟