I glance at my watch. 1740 hours. Right, just about enough time to get to the Ramphal Building.
As I walk, I smile to myself, a little foolishly, because I personally like to think of what we do in Crafts in Hospital as deconstructed cards, much like deconstructed dessert.
Crafts kits ready to for delivery!
From the library, I cross the road and enter, the bizarre blue constellation-map greeting me. I make for the staircase. The walk up is always a one not to look forward to, especially if I happen to be carrying bags full of papers and stationery. (Sessions are usually held on the third floor.) Today I go two steps at one time, mainly because I can, and also because I’m not carrying any materials.
Tom, our Project Leader, and a few others are helping lay out the materials on the table in front. As the minutes pass, more people trickle in. At about ten past, Tom stands up, greets everyone, thanks them for coming and explains what we do for the benefit of the newcomers.
Oh, forgive me – I have yet to explain it either. In our weekly sessions, we make craft packs for adult patients in hospitals so that they can assemble their cards following our designs. It helps them alleviate their boredom; research has shown that it improves their well-being!
Today’s session is a ‘prototype session’. This means that we get to design the cards, before deconstructing them the week after. Sometimes it’s birthday cards, sometimes for special occasions (not that birthdays aren’t special occasions!) like Easter and Christmas. In the past we’ve had one-off sessions as well, to make bookmarks and bracelets. After the explanation, some of us stand up and surge towards to table at the front, ‘ooh-ing’ and ‘ah-ing’ at the shiny papers and grabbing scissors and pencils to start designing. Background music cues as someone sets up a Youtube playlist, just to get the atmosphere going.
Volunteers busy making craft kits
Others, like me, sit and think for a while as to what to do. The lack of creativity isn’t something that we laugh at here; Tom goes around encouraging us to try look for samples online if we aren’t able to get our creative juices flowing. The important thing, he adds, is just for us to have fun cutting, pasting, drawing and sticking and to remember that we’re helping someone in the process.
Two hours fly by as my neighbor and I chat as we make our designs. She uses the pipe cleaners and twists them into a flower before sticking them onto the card. One thing I enjoy about this is that since attendance at sessions are really flexible (you don’t have to turn up every week), we meet different people from different backgrounds all the time. It’s great to be able to spend some time de-stressing doing non-academic work and get to make new friends at the same time.
As the session draws to an end, we are reminded to ‘like’ the Facebook page. You can do so here: https://www.facebook.com/craftsinhospital/?fref=ts . This is because there is a Facebook poll to pick the cards we will replicate during the next session. These are picked by voting: how many ‘likes’ a picture gets. Those who are new whip out their phones and do so immediately. They are greeted with loads of card designs which they scroll through, admiring them.
I get up to throw some rubbish, but quickly sit down again because it seems that there is more to come. We are told something else: that we’ve made some patients really happy along the way! Apparently the hospital at which we donate the craft packets to sent us a letter thanking us for the wonderful work we’ve done. So, if you want to give us a helping hand next year, Facebook message us and we’ll let you know the times we meet.
The session draws to a close at about 2000 hours. A few people have left early to catch buses back home. The rest of us help with cleaning up and packing the materials back into the bags. I wave a cheery goodbye to the remaining people before bracing myself for a long walk home. As I leave, I treat myself to another silly smile, because another successful session has gone by.
You can join Crafts in Hospital on Wednesday 27 April, from 7.30-9.30pm in R0.03/04 (Ground floor of Ramphal). Kenilworth Phab members will also be joining this session.
By Jinghann Hong, Volunteer with Crafts in Hospital