Saturday, 26 May 2012

Farewells, again

Life in an NGO is full of arrivals and departures, particularly when based at a regional centre. Teams coming and going to the village stop here for a few days to pack and prepare or to rest and recover. Workshops with all their participants and staff make a bigger and longer arrival. I myself have gone on one village trip already and have two more planned in the coming month.
Arriving for dinner in style

Among all this coming and going, the people who hold the place together are the centre managers and staff. They welcome people, prepare rooms, look after the property, sign the cheques and generally keep the place running. Yesterday we farewelled the centre manager and his family. When you farewell the glue of a place like this, there is much sadness. They are returning to the USA and taking up a new role with The Seed Company.

Staff serving extra guests first
On Thursday evening we had a farewell dinner. They had asked for a simple farewell, but I’m not sure such a thing exists here. The VITAL participants made flower necklaces for the family and lead them in a procession of drumming and dancing to the dining hall. After dinner there were speeches, gifts and more musical items. The next morning people lined the driveway in a final farewell as they left for the airport. I admit to skipping the final farewell, as it reminded me too much of leaving Perth at 15, with most of the congregation plus my sister on the train platform waving goodbye. Many tears were shed then too.

How to deal well with all these comings and goings is a challenge that may take me some time to work out. I want to be able to be both welcoming to new people, even if they are passing through, and able to express grief with those leaving. I can see that a form of compassion fatigue could easily occur and neither welcomes nor farewells be given much notice. Yet another challenge of life here!

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