Read Part I here
Besides the girl you talked about in our previous segment, do you have another story that was strong and memorable for you?
All stories are strong when you commit yourself to listening attentively and lovingly to people who have asked for help. I remember a call to a senior citizen who was very sad because he had been isolated in the nursing home where he lived. All of his friends there had Covid and he had was tested negative for it. So, he was separated from the others, for several days, totally isolated, so that he would not be infected. We talked for several minutes, he cried, he got emotional. His family did not visit him and they did not communicate very often; he needed someone to listen to him. He was afraid, so he deeply appreciated the call. I also remember talking to a young man who was incarcerated in La Plata, who needed help. He sounded very anguished. Another lady had her daughter under cancer treatment for three years in Federal Capital. I think she was from Bahía Blanca – a city that is 650 km from Buenos Aires. She had settled in Buenos Aires a long time ago to accompany her teenaged daughter in her fight against cancer. She lived in a rented room and spent most of her days in the hospital with her daughter. She was also distraught, highly emotional, and she needed help. She needed to talk as part of her rehabilitation. There are many stories, there are many people who suffer and there are many needs that are perceived and felt differently. And although as volunteers we do not have the solution in our hands, we do have the decision, the desire and the need to help, offer a hand and collaborate.
Do you think that working with Helpers helped you after Hernán’s suicide?
Hernan’s loss has been so violent and painful that I still don’t know what its repercussion will be for me over the years; what I do know is that there is a before and an after. I have experienced many losses in my life but Hernán’s suicide impacted me in a different way. Perhaps because of the nature of his death, perhaps because we were almost the same age, perhaps because of what he meant to me; and I say that it was different because for the first time I felt that such a great pain could be transformed and put onto something positive, like helping. I always think that when you lose someone you love, a part of yourself is lost too. With Hernán, the memories of the happiest years of my life are gone, however I am still alive and whatever time I have left, I will strongly honor it. Being part of a volunteer service is for me, among other things, a way of honoring life.
For you, how can happiness be defined? How does being a volunteer help you achieve it?
For years I have been pursuing, through a lot of internal work, what I call internal coherence, which I define as the relationship that exists between what I imagine, dream and think, what I feel and long for, what I say and pronounce and finally what I do. Thinking, feeling, saying and doing all things in harmony. It is not a simple task, human beings are full of contradictions and going through the construction of the coherence which I speak of is arduous. However, I believe that it is one of the many ways that exist to achieve happiness. There are many definitions of happiness, depending on who is writing it, their education and their own life. This word has always invited me to reflect. Today, at 36 years of age, I think I can sketch a concept of what happiness is for me particularly. To think that as humanity we deserve a more loving and less hostile world, to feel that we are capable of building it, to speak out in favor of a more cooperative, supportive and less unequal community and finally to actively do something to make that happen — starting from the tiny place that we have to inhabit. That is partly happiness for me. And that’s the path I decided to follow. Today I continue to work at Helpers as an operator, making phone calls, and I have begun to be part of the Alliances team, officiating as a bridge between the training institutions in first aid and CPR maneuvers and Helpers, so that more and more people join the network of in-app help and get trained through Helpers.
If you were asked, what would be your advice to someone who has lost a loved one?
After time passes and the intense pain in their hearts eases, I invite them to think of the following: The value of life is immeasurable, it is the most wonderful and fragile, the most sublime and delicate, and in general we do not think about it. That is why we need to think of the death of a loved one as an invitation to think about life and to rethink what the value is and the meaning we give to our own — how to make it worth living. Life is worth living because it has color and each of us can make this world better. To lose focus, to take your gaze and attention from yourself to put it at the service of someone else is, in general, the best medicine. The loved one will always accompany us in one way or another and will give us strength to give strength to those who may be suffering as well. This is how it works: when people decide to help others it is because they have decided to heal.
To read the first part of Emiliana’s story, click here.