Georgina, from my post on the 16th, is a CASA member (that’s what we call the people with disabilities to whom we provide our services) who has cerebral palsy and is cared for by her parents at home. She has been a member since she was a child (she is 18 now), and although she goes to a workshop a few days a week (workshops are basically day centers for people with disabilities so they can get out of the house—they can take classes, use computers, paint, etc.), Georgina has no speech capabilities* and a hard time making friends, so CASA is a big support for her socially.
The way my schedule works is that for two days a week, we go and visit members at home (whether that be with parents, a nursing home, or a hospital) or take them out to lunch or dinner, usually at a pub nearby. They order whatever they want—including booze!—and we order soup or something small to preserve our budget, and we hang out and chat with them for a few hours. (Chatting can involve computers, notepads, sign language, giant boards with letters on them, or just us saying funny things to get a laughter response). Taking public transportation to and from these outings tacks quite a bit of time on, but even so these are usually not eight hour days. Sometimes we do office work here at home…but not really.
Then seven members come to stay at our house for 48 hours—usually on the weekends, but not always. They arrive at 4pm, we drink tea together and get acquainted, and then eventually we eat dinner prepared by a volunteer chef. (Some of them are SO GOOD, like this lady Orlaugh who went out of her way to make me a delicious vegetable/nut loaf last week and I love her for it, and others are downright mediocre but still nice people.) Then we go bowling. Then we come back to the house and drink more tea and listen to music and have a dance party usually, and sometimes the members like to sing as well. Then we go to bed. The next day we have breakfast together at home, get picked up to go to the mall for shopping and a film, and then we come home to rest and drink tea before going out to dinner, usually at a very posh establishment, although not with the children’s or teens groups. And dinner goes quite late (although if it doesn’t, we head to a pub) and then we go home, drink tea, maybe another dance party, maybe we play bingo, maybe we play cards—it depends on what they want. The next day we have breakfast at home, go to mass, and have lunch either at home or somewhere fancy. If the weather is nice, we go for walks on Sunday to the castle grounds or along the marina. And then the members get picked up at 4pm (although most people in Ireland are habitually late, so it varies) and we have a meeting and clean up the house a bit and then have at least two days off. Most of the time.
*her mother would disagree with this, as she says she understands Georgina’s every noise perfectly.
More updates when I don’t have the flu and do have more time!
Yesterday Gabriele and I took the DART (commuter train) to visit a girl named Georgina who lives with her parents above the pub that they own. She and her mother baked us apple pie and we sat and ate it with fresh whipped cream and tea and talked to them while rain poured off and on outside. Georgina likes to drink Bacardi Breezers, but her mother only let her have tea yesterday because it was only 6 o’clock on a Wednesday. As we were leaving, Gabriele said “That was my third piece of apple pie in ten hours” which will give you an idea of how many desserts are surrounding and offered to us constantly. For some reason I didn’t have my camera, and of course there was the most beautiful beach scene at the DART stop on our way back because it had stopped raining and the clouds were white and billowing and the sky was blue again and to our left there was a little green peninsula with some small castle ruins on the edge. I took a picture with my phone but now I have to figure out how to get it off my phone and onto here. In case that never happens, you’ll just have to close your eyes and imagine my description and pretend you are here, too.
Claire and I went to an old man bar to prep for karaoke and fell in love with the bartender who was named Glenn Gannon (only 27, not an old man). He is the son of the owner and he was filling in for someone on vacation. I do not think he fell in love with us, but he did give us some free shots of Jameson because we are poor volunteers. The regular customers talked to us in thick, drunken accents that we couldn’t understand. They thought it was bizarre that we had decided to go into their bar, which I think was actually just called “Irish Pub.” One man named Seamus quizzed us extensively on American history while his wife kept yelling “Don’t listen to him! He always does this! Seamus! Nobody cares!”
Then we went to Stables, the karaoke bar and sang “Forever in Blue Jeans” together and then got more free drinks. Somehow, I failed to take any pictures that night which, as all of you know, basically never happens. A Scottish girl sprayed deodorant in my face by accident in the bathroom and then said she would pay my cover at Clarence, the local nightclub, to make up for it. But Claire and I did not want to get more drunk and be hungover for the bus in the morning, and Clarence is a really terrible name for a nightclub and it was already 2am, so we just went back to the hostel. Our roommates that night were a German brother and sister, and the brother played baseball and the sister had red dreadlocks.