I have been in Haiti for the past week with a couple of psychologists. We are helping at two hospitals for mentally handicapped people. It’s has begin an amazing experience of God’s love, mercy and compassion. These children, men and women are so pure, so simple, and so innocent. At the beginning I suffered just by looking at them, but after a couple of hours with them I realized that they are the happiest and fulfilled people. Even though they are aware of their limitations, the majority of them were born that way so they haven’t experienced what it means to walk, talk, move on their own…and that makes them appreciative of the little things that they can accomplish each day, like moving a hand, or reaching for a piece of candy or forming a few words. They are content with what they can do; they are not hoping for more. Within their limitation they have learned to be happy and within that they have been able to find fulfillment.
I know, some of you may be thinking: no way, that can be! Well…judge for yourself: Monique is a teenager with cerebral palsy; her hands are very contracted and her facial movements are contorted. After she finished her full bowl of rice and beans, she turned around and then helped a little boy that suffers the same illness as her, but he hasn’t learned how to eat on his own. Nadia another teen girl with Down’s syndrome helps Jocelyn go up the ramp in her wheelchair because she has no legs. And what about Jocelyn, Nadia and Yolanda — all of them with some sort of disability, physical or mental — helping to feed the other boys and girls with severe physical disabilities…looking for the best positions in the crib for the patients to be able to swallow their food, cleaning their little faces afterwards, making sure to carry out a simple conversation.
You tell me. Those days in Haiti make me wonder, why at times, I feel empty, sad, unfulfilled, always looking to achieve that one thing, that one quality, that one virtue, that one…overlooking what I have within me. That’s what paralyzes me, what cripples me — not being able to see what I am, what I have and what I can do. Sometimes I only focus on what I am lacking. These kids taught me a lot. Life is not about what I have or can’t do; life is who I am and what I can do.