As professionals in the field of social services and health care, and even for those not in the aforementioned fields, a good question to consider is the following: what is the least we can do in order to make someone who is at risk of being marginalized feel that they matter in society as people? The answer is very simple: be kind, and be human. Perhaps being human IS to be kind. Some might argue that being human is to also make mistakes, and this is a valid point. But despite our misteps, I believe that each of us have a stronger inclination towards human decency, and we can correct our mistakes. Naturally, it is up to each one of us to foster our humanity.
Elderly people are an important group in our society, and it would be wise to remember that one day we, too, will be old, and will most likely be facing similar life challenges. As such, we must ask ourselves a further question: how do we wish to be treated by society? The marginalization that aging migrants face is easily double that which the native aging population faces. The reasons include, among others, not being able to understand the language and lacking support networks such as family and friends. Other matters such as mental health illnesses or sexual identity crises pose further risks of individuals being excluded. During my time at the Jade II Project, what became most clear is that, if nothing else, we must be human. This includes being kind and showing respect to all people.
Whenever interacting with our clients, we would always greet them and smile. With genuine interest we would ask them how they are doing, and we would offer them time. Seemingly insignificant acts, but the positive implications are immense. Granted, as professionals one might think that we are merely acting according to the rules of conduct that our professions espouse. But why should such conduct be limited to professionals? Are we not all capable of being human, kind and respectful to one another? I suppose the message that I am trying to convey is, if we all treated each other in a more humane way, we would all benefit, young and old. You do not need to be a trained social service or health care professional to be a human being, or to act as a human being should.
Thank you once again to the Jade II Project for reminding me to be human.