Buddies (1/5): ‘They are my buddy too’

Some vulnerable or lonely people could use some help, especially in times of corona. That’s why student Ruben Oude Nijhuis (first-year Social Work) is a buddy for two psychologically vulnerable people, during his internship is at healthcare organisation RIBW. 

“Every Friday I’m visiting one patient for a few hours and then I have a few hours with the next one. One of them is about my age and has autism. We talk a lot but we also cycled through Zwolle once. He is very interested in the second World War, just like me. We cycled past all the places that had something to do with the war and took pictures of them. 

My other buddy is older than me and has autism and traumas. We watch a lot of music videos on YouTube, especially from concerts he’s been to when he was younger. We also talk a lot. About life, about his therapy.

I’m glad to be the highlight of their day. It isn’t always easy to stay optimistic, especially during a pandemic. My patients tend to feel lonely for example, but they flourish again when I come by. I notice by the smile on their faces. That’s why I do this.

It was rather formal at the start. I obviously went there because it was part of my internship, but I feel like we have a proper friendship now. I wouldn’t even call them patients anymore, because I talk to them as if we were friends.
One of my buddies said: “If anything were to happen to you, it would hurt me a lot. I care for you.” That is very moving to hear, and I feel the exact same way. I’m certain I’ll keep visiting them after my internship is over. I’m not just a buddy for them, they’re my buddies as well.”

Text: Silke Polhuijs
Photos: Jasper van Overbeek

Want to do voluntary work?

There are multiple options in Zwolle. ‘Hart voor Zwolle’ for example, aims at buddy-projects. The foundation saw an increase in loneliness last year. For more info check: stichtinghartvoorzwolle.nl

Or project ‘Impacter’ by ‘Samen Zwolle’. Aimed at youngsters aged 14-27 who want to discover and utilise their own passion and talent through voluntary work. For more info check: impacterzwolle.nl

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