By Miriam, SACHA Support Line Coordinator
In 1982 a tiny notice jumped out at me from a board at the Woman’s Voice, a brand new feminist centre in West Jerusalem. “Seeking volunteers for the new Rape Crisis Centre”. After minimal training I volunteered for 7 years, beginning with a whole year of anxiously waiting for my first call, alone in an empty, echoing air-raid shelter that we were allowed to use.
But from the start it was a breath of fresh air being in a non-judgemental feminist environment where I could be myself and meet amazing like-minded women. I totally enjoyed being helpful with anything needed, from stuffing envelopes to developing a public education campaign on child sexual abuse – an issue which had been taboo until then.
I then got part time work there as coordinator of the crisis line and the volunteers who staffed it – a job I am again enjoying again here at SACHA. It is still a source of joy and inspiration. I love meeting such brilliant, caring, dedicated woman identified folks.
I am inspired by their willingness to examine their privilege and to speak up against sexism and male domination, racism, and all oppression. I am humbled by their willingness to go through a trying training period, to listen to survivors at all hours of the day and night, and to be there for each other as solid sources of support. For me, their willingness to give of their time freely for a cause is a constant reassurance against the pervasive propaganda that maintains that people are only selfishly motivated by profit. And this smart, irreverent gang is absolute fun to hang out with!.
The indispensible help these women provide SACHA cannot be over-stated.
Of course, there are many constraints on women’s availability, from work to school, childcare and other demands of daily life in our current society, but many are willing and able to give far beyond the 8 hours a week /one year time commitment that Support Line volunteers sign up for before being considered for the training. I’m always amazed at how SACHA volunteers step up to tasks and get stuff done!
It doesn’t ever seem possible to thank SACHA volunteers enough. THANK YOU!