Over the past week I have found myself turning to a song that I used to sing in high school for inspiration. The song, entitled Go Light Your World, reminds us that we all possess a light and that this light can be used to bring others out of the darkness. We are called to be a beacon for others, and as much as I find myself being that light for the people of Peru, I also find them being a source of light for me.
Over the course of the past week I have found myself in some dark situations, and I have tried (to the best of my ability) to be a beacon of light in these situations.
I learned on Wednesday of the passing of my “first patient” Señor Nicholas. Señor was the first person that I visited in Chimbote. Although he was very ill and confined to his bed, he and his family were a source of light for me Their dedication to caring without avail for Nicholas was inspiring and I watched in awe as they cradled him while we tended to his wounds and tried their best to keep the flies (and there were many) away from him as we worked. I pray that his family maybe able to overcome the darkness that surrounds his death by remembering him with fondness and knowing that they did everything for him to keep him content while he was still with them.
Although I am trying my best, there is still a language barrier between myself and the people of Peru. Each day I show improvement, but my greatest struggle thus far has been feeling as though I cannot connect to the patients that I work with.
One day we visited the house of a 31 year old man named Michael. Michael is a schizophrenic who is also suffering from other medical issues. He refuses to take his medications and to leave his bed. Our objective of our trip to his home was to prepare him to take an ambulance to the local hospital where he could receive treatment for his ailments (we unfortunately do not have the capacity to care for him at our clinic). We spent HOURS in the darkness of Michael’s room trying to coax him out of his bed with no avail. After much time had passed several police officers came to assist. They suggested that I go over and try to comfort him. We told him that “Doctora Catalina” was here and that it was imperative for him to get out of bed. I tried my best, I grabbed his hand and I told him he could do it and that I would be there with him every step of the way. Sadly, we were unable to get him out of his bed and after endlessly trying we had to move on to visit other patients. I do hope, however, to return to his home this week and to check on his condition.
Later that day I visited the home of two young boys ages four and two. I was absolutely shocked to find that they were home alone and that there was no one to care for them. They were so young, so helpless and explained to me that their mother worked each day and only came home later in the evening. This also meant that the boys only ate when their mother was home, and they were “mucho hambre”- very hungry. This was very disturbing for me, but is so very common here. So many of our children in the orphanage faced similar situations and so many people do not have the means to provide food for their children. I found myself questioning “how can I bring light to this situation?” The only solution I had was to provide them with comfort, attention, love, and of course some stickers.
My heart was broken after seeing those boys. Walking back to the Maternidad from their house we spotted the cutest boy sitting outside of a house in his red stroller. The boy, who I fell in love with, has several disabilities and was basically confined to his stroller. He had the most infectious smile and loved holding my hand. I asked his mom if he was getting any therapy to improve his muscle strength. She told me that he wasn’t. I then proceeded to inform her about the services we have for the children at the Maternidad; Monday through Friday we offer therapy for children in the afternoon and offer speech therapy on Saturday mornings. This afternoon when I went to work I spotted a red stroller sitting outside of the therapy unit, they had taken my advice and come! I was greeted with a warm smile from my little guy and a hug from his mother. Their love and gratitude for suggesting the clinic for them brought so much warmth into my day.
Sometimes all you need is to be yourself to bring joy into the hearts of others. A simple smile, the touch of a hand, and some concern can bring light into a situation. As I reflect on this week, I am determined to carry my candle and share my light with others and hope that in turn they take that light and pass it on.
So, “Carry your candle, and run to the darkness
Seek out the helpless, confused and torn
And hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world“
Love from Peru,