A Place to Go Back To
I joined Kaan Pete Roi right after my HSC exam back in 2013. I took pride in being the youngest volunteer of KPR at that time. When I say pride, I really mean it. I would tell anyone in the office who'd listen that I'm the youngest one around here. I was a super active volunteer, would go to the office several times a week, covering extra shifts. In the first year, I was among the top ten call receivers in the office.
For me, Kaan Pete Roi office was fun. You wouldn’t really call a place that deals with people with emotional distress “fun”. But KPR made a point of taking care of the volunteers after they deal with intense calls. The office promoted healthy discussions, light and friendly environment. I would go there whenever I get some free time to socialize, to have the evening tea, to have Iftari during Ramadan, to discuss about what is going on around us. KPR broadened my horizons, I met people of all kinds there, getting out of my small bubble after high school for the first time.
Looking back at the past six years, my heart gets filled with immense gratitude for everything I have got from Kaan Pete Roi. I have made some amazing friends there, friendships that would probably last a lifetime. I made some spectacular memories with them at KPR with all the events, parties and even weddings. They are also the kind of friends who would be there for you when you are at your lowest, when you need them the most. The friendships I had there, the social life at KPR are certainly some things that I really cherish and miss. But I think working at KPR had effects on me that goes beyond this.
I took many calls at KPR, dealing with different kinds of issues. Talking to people in their worst moments changes your perspective. You understand how different life can be for different individuals, how ability to handle different issues can vary from person to person. You really learn to appreciate how some things in life are just beyond anyone’s control, and all you can do to help someone is to be there for them, just as a voice of support and empathy. You get over the feeling of helplessness for not being able to do more when a caller thanks you, says you helped to make her feel better. It is a bittersweet experience, taking these phone calls. Every time I would feel for the person who is often going through so much in her life, then I would feel thankful that I could share even a tiny bit of her sorrow for a brief moment.
Kaan Pete Roi trains the volunteers to handle emotionally distressed or suicidal phone calls. The training and in extent, the whole KPR call receiving experience, in my opinion, teaches you how to not talk to people when they are in distress. What I got from it is, to not judge people for what they are going through in their life for whatever reasons. To show empathy, to show that you are there to support them even if you don’t fully understand their situation. Which brings me to the third point, to not force your opinion, suggestions or advice on people when you are really not in their shoes. You would think this could be common sense, but even for me, it was not. I have learned these from KPR and I have carried it around everywhere in my life. I have always tried to comfort people around me without judging them or trying to give them advice even when I felt inclined to. I could really appreciate how just letting people talk it out to an empathetic ear can go a long way.
I always wonder what type of person would I be today if I didn't start volunteering for a suicide prevention helpline at a young age. It's difficult to answer, but I'm glad that I did and that I have learned to be there for people around me with less judgment and more empathy.
KPR has been an incredible journey for me. I have stopped taking calls a few years ago. But I was still involved with KPR in many different ways. Sometimes, the involvement being just to go there to hangout. I am living far away from home now. Whenever I think about home, KPR is always a part of it, a place I can go back to again and again.