Over the last few months, I have needed to find a solution to a major problem, Martial my “homme à toute faire” has had both his shoulders operated on so is completely out of action, so I have been having help with all that needs doing getting ready for the rental season from some great HelpXers.
Some of my Business School students have been HelpXers in the past, and the systems is an interesting one. You are hosted by a family who give you board and lodging, and in return you help them with whatever needs doing. In my case that has involved repointing the gîtes, tidying the barn, planting the veggie patch, endless weeding, painting, putting up shelves, more tidying, laying a floor etc.
When your HelpXers arrive, you take a copy of their passport and insurance. You have to take care of them and make sure that you are interesting for them to visit otherwise why would they come? I happily lend them my car whenever I don’t need it and they put petrol in and off they go.
Now clearly, from a host point of view, there are good points and bad. The good is having extra hands to help with all manner of things, access to people with skills you don’t necessarily have, and travelling the world without leaving home. Not to mention meeting mostly really interesting people.
Then less good side is: feeding extra people 3 times a day, not being able to collapse as soon as you put the kids to bed, explaining how to do things – which can take longer than doing it yourself, showing them where everything is etc. For me I want them to stay as long as possible, in theory, but in practice human nature being what it is there are those you might wish to go sooner, rather than later. Basically you have to mould the task list to the talents of the people who come.
Our first group of helpers were Rick, from Mississippi State, who was certainly out of the ordinary and stayed for about 2 months.
Josh & Tash two Australians from Sydney who are excellent, super-motivated, super-helpful and talented people, who stayed for about 6 weeks.
Grant, from Alabama, who was only with us for a few weeks, who was brilliant with the girls, and much loved by them too. Grant taught Ellie how to throw a frisbee and running with Nina (a future marathon runner) while Ellie biked, and was endlessly patient with them.
Our second lot of HelpXers are Elise and Andrew from Georgia. Amazing workers, who have transformed the veggie patch and the dogs (into obedient beings), and done some serious cleaning.