Bringing Help When You Can’t

So here we are, May 2021 and I am supposed to be in India. I am supposed to be in India delivering mental health training. I am supposed to be in India physically connecting with the people there who I love. I am supposed to be in India filling my inner well with the energy and beauty that I find so enriching, so nourishing.

“Oh, poor you!”

“Why would you want to be there?”

“Be thankful you are not there!”

“Well, that’s just how it is…”

“Yes I know, it’s tough…”

“Get a grip!”

I have heard all of these comments and more (I’m pretty sure the first one was delivered with a healthy dose of sarcasm). I know I sound spoilt and privileged, and I also know I have a very comfortable, safe life here in Western Australia, for which I am eternally grateful. So, why would I want to go to India where, at the moment, things are not so comfortable or safe?

In spite of what is happening there or maybe because of it, my desire to be in India is stronger than ever. I am pretty sure it is not unusual to want to go to places that are struggling, especially if you already have a connection.

Think about those who go to war-torn countries, to famine-ravaged places, to areas where there are fires, droughts, earthquakes, cyclones, to refugee camps, to countries in the grips of a pandemic ….

Why do they leave their safe, comfortable homes and head into uncomfortable, difficult, and often dangerous areas? Why do they join the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, UNHCR, UNICEF, SES, and the countless other organisations that work in areas where help is most needed?

I believe it is because, generally speaking, people like to help each other. People want to comfort the bereaved, fix rooves, bandage injuries, tend to the sick, bring shelter to the displaced, feed the hungry, and protect the vulnerable, in whatever way they can. People want to help.

Whilst helping comes in many forms, it is the practical help that is usually the most satisfying, the most fulfilling. The help where you can see it is making a difference. It is heart-warming to watch hungry people eat the food you have brought, to see the sick start to look a little better, the bereaved give a smile, injuries start to heal, the tired to be able to sleep, shelter protecting people from the elements ….

To be able to come to those in real need and provide them with practical support, as well as physical comfort, is a precious gift.

So yes, I want to go to India to connect, to enrich myself … but I also want to bring practical help where it is needed. Unfortunately for me, it is just not possible to go there to help at the moment. All I can do is wait and prepare, pray and hope, and send love and care until I can visit with lasagnes and hugs.

About the Author

Engel Prendergast, Mental Health Consultant, Mental Strides

Engel Prendergast is a Mental Health Consultant, working with organisations and groups to build a culture that supports good mental health.

Engel is an accredited Mental Health First Aid and safeTALK Instructor, and Lifeline Crisis Supporter and Mentor. She holds a Bachelor of Science (Health Promotion), Diploma of Counselling, and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

With natural compassion, a determination to help others and extensive experience in training and facilitation, Engel provides an environment that fosters learning and ownership.

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