A friend at your side through the good times and the bad


A friend at your side through the good times and the bad

For Rita, her Red Cross visitor is more than a friend. She is like a sister. And on the hard days of life, Lyn helps her find the sunny side.

Red Cross volunteer Lyn and Rita have become good friends. Photo: Australian Red Cross/Aysha Leo

Rita is almost 80 and lives alone. She was born in Indonesia and moved to Australia decades ago, but most of her family is in Malaysia. When she is missing them or is worried, it really helps to have someone to talk to, she says.

That conversation and companionship help, too, when she is not feeling well. “It’s good to talk. Sometimes, if I have pain, I have pain everywhere … All last night, I couldn’t sleep because [of it]. But if someone talks to you, the pain goes away.”

Every Thursday, they catch up and spend time together. Some days you will find them working in the sunshine in Rita’s small garden.

Rita’s very knowledgeable. She’s been teaching me all about lemongrass, and ginger and I’ve been showing her how to prune roses,” says Lyn, a Red Cross volunteer. “We like getting out and about. Rita will bring the coffee, and we will have a picnic at the lake. And we go up to the beach and watch the whales go by.

“We’re good friends. We tell each other lots of things, and we have a good laugh.”

They talk, too, about the difficult parts of life and the challenges of family relationships. “She has one daughter here in Australia who she doesn’t have a lot of contact with. So, we talk about those things and how she can manage her feelings.”

Lyn, who recently retired after decades as a nurse, says volunteering with Red Cross is the best thing she has ever done. "I enjoy meeting and talking with people. I felt I had a lot to give.”

And for Rita, whose second language is English, life is better with Lyn at her side. “This [is] easy talking … I thought this is my sister.”

Thanks to our generous supporters, Red Cross helped more than 10,300 older, isolated people last financial year. Along with regular visitors for people at home or in aged care centres, we provide daily check-in phone calls, meal deliveries, and drive people to medical appointments.

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