It was a fleeting moment during a therapy session when I asked the beautiful mother pictured below –
‘Momma Shirat, do you realize how strong you are?’
She looked at me with a somehow perplexed look on her face and she responded –
‘No, no I don’t.’
Perhaps she didn’t realize that I knew her very own family had told her not to “waste her time” coming to Imprint Hope’s 7-week education and rehabilitation program because her beautiful daughter, Shirat, would always be “lame and dumb.”
Perhaps she didn’t know that I observe her come into the therapy room overnight to grab therapy equipment to work with her daughter in the evenings.
Perhaps she didn’t notice that I see a humble spirit thirsting for knowledge, asking an abundance of questions during every class on disabilities we have at Imprint Hope.
Perhaps, she didn’t know that I was aware that she lost her husband in a tragic accident, when she was 6 months pregnant, and chose to persevere forward for her child, despite the abundant heartache and pain she felt in heart.
Perhaps, she didn’t realize that when I look at her, I see an incredible, humble and resilient strength that shatters my definition of pure courage.
The families we work with everyday at Imprint Hope and the ongoing global pandemic, remind me that there are no differences or borders between those who suffer. We are all frail, all equal, all precious.
Regardless of where we live or our individual circumstances, this global pandemic has effected all of us in one way or another. We all can pinpoint someone who might have contracted the virus or might have died. We all can articulate how this global pandemic has changed our perspective on life. What was once our normal routine has been radically altered over the past several months, some things which will return to “normal” and others which will leave a permanent change in our lives.
I witness the mothers and fathers we work with in Uganda express how their child with a disability has drastically impacted every component of their lives, from their family dynamic and everyday routine, to their acceptance amidst their village and their reputation. Their lives have been forever changed.
These vivid realities reminds me that the beautiful virtue of mercy does not abandon, quantify or compare when we should delegate who “deserves” a second change at healing, hope and even LIFE.
Its so easy to get wrapped up in the belief that life is better if things go my way, and that everything will be fine if things in my life are running smoothly. However, I’ve realized that this belief leads us down the road of avoiding the situations and people who challenge us, who offer us the opportunity for growth amidst hardship. We end up selecting one person over another, and minimize the possibility that grace and mercy can transform illness, injury, brokenness and pain into something redemptive and life giving.
So as the world continues to face the unpredictable times, we proceed forward to serve families of children with disabilities. I hope we all continue to foster an empathetic heart to the sufferings of others and reach the understanding that we ALL are in dire need of mercy.
For an even worse virus of selfish indifference to the needs of others has the power to infect our hearts, if we allow it too.
For just as Momma Shirat had no idea of how her courageous witness of motherhood, advocacy and sacrifice inspired my heart – sometimes YOU will never know how your daily interactions with people have the potential to “imprint” a lasting impression on someone’s weary heart.
So let us not think of only our vested interests. Let us welcome this time of uncertainties and challenges as an opportunity to foster a community that embraces each individual, no matter their circumstances. Let us continue to show mercy to those who are most vulnerable; for only in this way will we build a brand new world.