Generally you expertise one thing that redefines who you’re — an expertise that hits your coronary heart so arduous it leaves you breathless. That second in my life occurred in Thomazeau, Haiti.
I’m a senior at Texas A&M College, and I’m a member of a corporation known as Aggie Sisters for Christ. I had all the time needed to go on a missions journey, so when the announcement for the annual Aggie Sisters missions journey got here, I signed up earlier than understanding something about Thomazeau or LiveBeyond, the group with which we might be working. Little did I do know, however that summer season would create a particular place in my coronary heart for individuals with psychological and bodily disabilities.
Should you ask anybody who has been to Thomazeau with LiveBeyond a couple of lady named Annette, they may inform you that they’ve by no means seen a extra tragic and infuriating scenario. Annette is a lady with developmental disabilities who makes pig noises as a result of she has been locked in a hut with pigs her entire life. The individuals in her village deal with her terribly. Once I noticed her face coated in filth and watched her gulp down Gatorade desperately, it was a type of moments that each tore at my coronary heart and made me need to punch somebody.
After a second journey to Thomazeau, I couldn’t keep away. I returned for my third time this previous July and served as an intern for 3 weeks. I volunteered within the clinic, treating kids who had scabies, taking blood stress and holding valuable infants. I additionally had the privilege of caring for a 52-pound, 18-year-old woman named Sheila.
Sheila developed bacterial meningitis a number of years in the past. She now has a developmental incapacity and is ravenous to loss of life as a result of her household doesn’t take care of her, which is way too frequent an prevalence for these with disabilities within the creating world. We introduced Sheila to the bottom virtually day by day to wash her, feed her and love on her. Sheila is such a valuable, curious woman who loves fruit snacks and holding your hand. I cherished spending time along with her.
One afternoon, I used to be feeding Sheila some Pringles when Marie Nicole, one of many Haitian employees, walked into the room. She noticed Sheila’s bony determine and instantly closed her eyes, raised her fingers and began praying fiercely in Creole. She then sat subsequent to me with watery eyes and commenced serving to me place the Pringles in Sheila’s mouth. Later that day, Sophie, one other Haitian employee, got here into the room and combed and braided Sheila’s hair whereas softly singing to her.
Between Two Worlds
Earlier than I went to Haiti, I had spared little thought for what life could be like for individuals with disabilities within the creating world. In Haiti, this portion of the inhabitants, created in God’s picture, is severely uncared for, scorned and handled worse than animals. Nevertheless, in these moments with Sheila, I noticed a change of Haiti taking place earlier than my eyes — Haitians have been caring for and loving these with disabilities.
My huge second occurred after we dropped Sheila off at her home for the final time earlier than I left Haiti. Leaving her on that straw mat broke my coronary heart, understanding that once I return to my snug American residence, she is going to nonetheless be in Thomazeau. Whereas I’m protected and revered, she is going to nonetheless be mistreated. Whereas I stay in luxurious, she is going to nonetheless stay in excessive poverty. Whereas I eat meals at any time when I would like, she is going to nonetheless be ravenous. Whereas I sit in cozy chairs and sleep in my cozy mattress, she is going to nonetheless be coated in scratches from sleeping on the arduous gravel.
However I’ve a lot hope. I’ve hope as a result of we serve God. I’ve hope as a result of I do know that LiveBeyond is drastically reworking Haiti for the Kingdom of God. They’re feeding the hungry, they’re caring for the poor, they’re taking care of the “least of those” (Matthew 25:40) and they’re caring for Sheila. They’re residing like Jesus, sharing the excellent news and educating the Haitians (simply as a lot because the People) what it means to be a Christian and to defend the reason for the oppressed. And I do know that sooner or later, by God’s energy, Sheila will likely be healed.
Each second in Thomazeau modified me. My time there taught me that our goal as Christians is to not stay a lifetime of consolation for ourselves — our goal is to surrender our consolation in order that others might stay. Our goal is to stay like Jesus and defend the reason for the oppressed. I’m not content material with residing for me. Each second of my time must be spent residing like Jesus and bettering the lives of my brothers and sisters.
Claire Bartlett is a senior at Texas A&M College majoring in allied healthcare. She has served on three missions journeys to Haiti, most lately serving as a summer season intern with LiveBeyond, the place she helped in no matter methods have been most wanted, largely helping individuals with disabilities.
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