Friday, August 3, 2012

What is essential? When you take a moment to think about your own life and all that it entails, what is it that you actually, truly, need? Not simply to survive, but to thrive. When I am surrounded by the children at Escuela Especial and standing in front of their families inside of their homes, these questions command the attention of every thought in my head.  For me personally my most essential need, beyond the basics of food and shelter, is the need  to give and receive love. Most of these children do not even have the love of their own families, are fed less than their siblings, over-medicated and locked in dark rooms all day, because they are seen as a burden. Struggling through every second of their lives with no way to communicate except to squeeze your hand, laugh and smile. We often hear that you don't know how strong you are until your strength is tested and the human spirit is one of the most resilient forces in the world. After spending time with children who have special needs in a country that treats them as a curse, needless to say, I understand that resilience with a whole new level of respect.

A majority of the experience for our team in Nicaragua is visiting the homes of children who are too disabled to attend school and also visiting the homes of children who are disabled, being mistreated and have been reported to the Nicaraguan equivalent of social services.  You never know what you are walking into as you stand outside a "home" in the slums. The anticipation and fear of the unknown is a very unique and intimidating feeling. You will see children that are skin and bones with cerebral palsy whose spines and limbs have contorted into the shape of whatever chair they have been sitting in. You will see extremes between children whose parents actually perform their exercises daily, taught to them by a physical therapist, and children whose parents haven't done them for 12 years. You listen as their parents answer your questions about the medications the children are taking for seizures and then show you that they haven't been able to afford it for months. It is impossible to not feel what it must be like for them every day. As difficult as this is to see, there was never any hesitation with having students participate in a service project of this magnitude. It is important for them to not only share in the triumphs of the children in school but also gain awareness into the tragedies that await them at home.

Below are the links to the blogs of the students who are currently in Nicaragua. Their perspectives are priceless and it has been extraordinary to witness the growth and transformation happening daily within each of them.


No comments:

Post a Comment