What to do when a bird gets stuck in your house


Present, how to be
23 April 2016, 7:28 am
Filed under: ramble ramble | Tags: , , ,

Having just wrapped up a two-day workshop on health activism and immigrant and refugee rights and mental health, I’ve been having a quiet, reflective day. I went for a walk this afternoon to enjoy the sun and the last of the lilacs, and on the way home I crossed paths with an elderly woman, a bit lost and a bit nervous about being a bit lost. She asked me where 18th Ave was, and I pointed, but when I saw the panic in her eyes I asked if I could walk with her. She nodded, then grabbed my arm and didn’t let go.

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We were really only a few blocks away from her apartment, and in that time I learned so much about her: she has 4 grandchildren, she is from Taiwan, she loves to cook, she is bursting with pride for her daughter. Her English wasn’t great but that didn’t stop her from trying – she was practically bubbling over with stories. She asked me over for tea and for dinner; she showed me a picture of her granddaughter. We eventually found her place. I made sure she got inside safe and sound, and then we parted ways.

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I keep on thinking of the workshop we just finished – we talked about mental health and the challenges that people who move to a new country can face. Feelings of isolation, difficulties with language, a lack of the familiar cause stress and can lead to poor health outcomes. As this little old lady held onto my arm (not because she needed the physical support, I gather) I kept on thinking about how often we grapple with coming up with big solutions, systemic changes that are necessary to improve people’s lives. I am so grateful for today’s reminder that our challenge is also to come up with a million different micro-solutions, individual connections, offers of an arm to steady someone on, a space for stories.

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