I call it my Wonder Woman Complex, and I’ve had it all my life. I feel compelled to help or rescue, whether the person wants to be helped/rescued or not. I can’t help it, and I may as well be honest – I get a huge kick out of it.
I used to volunteer at a homeless shelter making tea. I loved it. People would come in from the freezing cold, sometimes depressed and in despair. I couldn’t fix their lives, but I could make them a cuppa.
A butcher, a baker …
And so it was, many years ago, flushed with my tea-making success, I decided to make chicken soup and take it out to homeless people on the streets of Edinburgh. The local butcher gave me chicken bones for the soup, and a baker gave me bread rolls that were headed for the bin at the end of the day. I enlisted the help of my friend Chrissie, who has always supported my wildest schemes, and off we went with our soup relief packed into a basket.
Except there were no homeless people. The streets of central Edinburgh were normally littered with people lounging on benches waving cans of Carlsberg Special Brew (Denmark’s gift to Scottish culture), but that night the streets were deserted. There was no-one to help. Our spirits were briefly buoyed by a guy in a bus shelter who took some soup, but he wasn’t actually homeless – it was just that the number 41 was really late.
Taken with a clean conscience
Latterly I have embarked upon a rather more successful mission. Via the AWC (American Women’s Club) Denmark, I came to hear about Christian’s Safe House, a refuge in Copenhagen for trafficked women. Because the women tend to arrive with nothing but the clothes they’re standing in, the shelter is constantly in need of toiletries and sanitary products.
Now I work for an international organisation and my colleagues travel all the time – I mean ALL the time. Some of them are away so much I don’t know their names. So I put out an appeal for them to bring back hotel toiletries and donate sanitary products. And bit by bit, the box by my desk filled up with heaps of little shampoos and soaps, shower caps and even shaving kits – having hairy legs and armpits is hardly going to help with self-esteem, is it.
Step aside Ultragirl
Best of all, heaps of pads and tampons began to also appear in the box. There should really be a superhero of menstruation – in fact I think it should be a job for Wonder Woman, instead of all that nonsense with the wristbands and the bullets. She hasn’t been around much recently so I’m guessing she would have the time, soaring through the air with a tampon in her outstretched hand to bail out a sister in need.
So if you would like to join me in helping trafficked women make a clean break from their abusers (and get a huge, unashamed kick out of it for yourself), then why not grab those toiletries next time you stay in a hotel and ask your travelling colleagues or spouse to do the same. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org to sort out how to get them to the safe house.
Go on, there’s a Wonder Woman in everyone.