Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Doing the Best I Can

It's been a long day. I am going to talk about the most frustrating part of it.

I don't speak French. I took up to grade 10 French and am able to understand it if spoken slowly. We have a client at the shelter, a refugee, who only speaks French. On top of this, I think she may be kind of bitchy. Anyhow, in the past few weeks, I have found that I know enough French to interact with her. None of the other staff on today spoke French, which left me as the one to be her contact. She had an eye appointment that she needed to attend. She did not want to attend, as she was too "fatigue" to go. Not a good enough reason, as the appointment was already booked. I told her the best I could that the eye doctor was "tres important", and she agreed to go if I would escort her. The deal was, I was to take her there, talk to the receptionist, and go back to the shelter.

I was already frustrated with her before we got there.
When we arrived, she discovered that the doctor did not speak French, only Italian and English. This was not good to her. Then, I had to tell her that the receptionist wanted her refugee papers. She was not willing to give them to her. The combination of the two made her state that she did not want to see the doctor. I tried to reason with her and explain the importance of it to her, with my extremely limited French.

I was getting pretty fed up.
It was at this point that another lady in the waiting room spoke up. This lady, who does not know this client, does not know me, does not know where we are from and does not know the situation, decides to tell me that they pay $60 for their appointments, so there is no point wasting the government's money to make a girl get her eyes checked who doesn't want to go.

I. Was. So. Pissed. But I didn't say anything. I turned around and ignored her. I wanted to give her a piece of my mind, but I blanked.
After a few minutes, I explained to the receptionist that she did not want to see the doctor, and she said that was fine and we left.
I was frustrated with the client, I was pissed at the nosy know it all lady, and most of all, I was disappointed in myself.
Why didn't I know French better? I could have convinced her to go, I could have been a better advocate for her. Where are my Child and Youth Worker skills? The skills that get stuff done and help kids. Most of all, where was my voice?

I froze when that lady spoke. She disgusted me. I actually felt bad for the client who was frustrating me so much. She is a refugee who has had a really tough life so far. She is in a country she doesn't know, and in the biggest city in that country. Hardly anybody can talk to her or understand her. Can you imagine how difficult that would be? So who is this lady to judge her and judge me by saying I am forcing her to do it? She has no idea what she is talking about. Really, I am proud to live in a country where people can seek refuge and get the help they need. Lady, you are a Canadian citizen, you've probably never been a victim of traumatic events and unjust governments, you have probably never had to go to a brand new country where no one can speak to you in your language, you have money to pay for an eye appointment. So take your fucking chequebook out of your ass and stop butting into other peoples' conversations where you are not wanted or needed and do not know any of the background information.
I wish I didn't freeze. I wish I was able to say that to her face. I wish my response wasn't silence and ignoring her.

I just have to keep remembering something a professor of mine said: "Everyone is doing the best they can."
My client was doing her best to cope with the situations she was faced with in the ways she knows how.
That lady was trying to stand up for her beliefs (however erroneous I know them to be).
And I was doing my best possible job as a CYW to deal with the situation at hand and use my skills to make things work out the best way possible for my client.

"Everyone is doing the best they can."


Christy Lou Who said...

I know exactly what you mean. I feel less stressed a lot when I read your blog, so thanks for that!

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