Christmas spirit at the Hof van Sloten rehabilitation centre
The rehabilitation centre allows people to recover after treatment or having surgery in hospital. “The volunteers bring this place to life and everyone enjoys seeing new faces,” says activity supervisor Ruth. “Today we’re making Christmas centrepieces.” Pine branches are on the tables, and there is plenty of ‘bling’ for decorations. “I chose to volunteer here because I can easily combine it with my fulltime job as a teaching assistant,” says volunteer Shakila. “I am originally from Afghanistan. When I first arrived here, I really missed my family. This is why enjoy talking to the elderly people here. They have so much life experience and some don’t have many family members to visit them.”
Participant Maxima is from Iran and lives in an asylum seekers’ centre. After a bicycle accident and a six-hour operation she ended up in the rehabilitation centre. “I like it in the Netherlands. In Iran I was always afraid but here I have found peace of mind. Although I have few relatives here, the church is my family in the Netherlands.”
Participant Nettie is pleased to be distracted today. “I have to do painful exercises for my back, and they make me feel down.” Nettie stayed with a family in England for two months after WWII. “We used to go round the houses singing carols. I would sing Dutch Christmas carols for them.”
At the end of the day, the volunteers were thanked with snacks and Christmas decorations with a card. We also want to thank the great staff at Hof van Sloten!
That was cool, man!
“I know Serve the City through my wife,” says volunteer Nico. “The response from the participants is heart-warming. We went bowling with people with mental disabilities one day. Afterwards one of the participants said ‘That was cool, man!’ It’s great to pay people attention and give them a sense of self-worth. At Christmas I always cook.”
A team of volunteers is busy making gifts that are handed out to people on the streets who work in public spaces, such as cleaners and traffic supervisors. Magdalena: “These people sometimes get negative reactions from the public while the work they do actually helps keep us safe. This is our way of showing them our support.”