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A life of silver linings

Born with a disability and teased at school, Rachel has overcome challenges to live her best life. Rachel tells how volunteering has played a part in her happiness.

My name is Rachel, I am 35 years old. I enjoy movies, hanging out with friends, doing embroidery and looking after children. In fact a great achievement I recently earnt was first place for my embroidery at the Royal Adelaide Show.

I was born with a disability called Myotonic Dystrophy. It is a disability passed from mother to child and gets more severe every generation so because of this I am unable to have children. If I did there would be a 50/50 chance that they couldn’t walk or talk. I know what it’s like to be teased, I was teased in school. When you’re teased your self esteem drops considerably and it takes a long time to realise that what they said was not true. It wasn’t until my twenties that I realised it. I wouldn’t put a child through what I’ve been through. 

My family really helped me understand that people who bully are miserable and unhappy with their lives and take it out on people that can’t defend themselves. Once I understood this I started trying to find the silver lining in my life. Some of my friends had a different way of looking at things and I learnt from them. Even though in my life, with the teasing, it may have seemed like a cloudy day there was always a silver lining and a rainbow to follow. One of my rainbows was getting my first paid job and another was finding my fiancé.  

...people who bully are miserable and unhappy with their lives and take it out on people that can’t defend themselves. Once I understood this I started trying to find the silver lining in my life.

I started volunteering at Red Cross in the Migration Support Program as a Volunteer Administration Assistant and I now work in International Humanitarian Law also as a Volunteer Administration Assistant. My jobs have covered archiving files, data entry, attending video conferences, doing phone work and working on spreadsheets.

Being at Red Cross has helped me because of the acceptance of everyone here, regardless of who you are or your physical or intellectual ability. Also, I have trouble dealing with change. At Red Cross they make sure they have told me about any change before it has happened and make sure I am OK.  My disability can make me very tired and they are understanding of this so they make sure that I am always feeling 100%.

Volunteering at Red Cross I get an amazing amount of respect and total acceptance from the team. Every morning I walk in I am greeted with a “Good Morning” or a “Hello”.

As a volunteer you learn amazing skills and experiences, but the best thing about volunteering is the people you meet and the friends you make.

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