Jul 2009 22

In the United States, 1.8 million elderly live in nursing homes.  In Africa, no such entity exists.  The elderly and infirmed live at home with their families.  In North Africa, this may mean that an elderly stroke victim may have to lie on some mats or a bed all day while their family members have to go off to work or school.  Or it may mean an accident victim in his mid-thirties will develop bed sores because he has no one who can change his position for him as he is unable to do it for himself.  Or a man whose legs are so swollen that they are almost unrecognizable must drag himself to the “bathroom” or suffer the embarrassment and inconvenience of incontinence.

Enter onto the scene a 50-something dynamo of a man, small of stature, but huge of heart who has decided that he wants to do works of compassion in these later years of his life.  Having diabetes himself, nothing stops him as he begins to really see the needs all around him in the large, rather prosperous city that he lives in.  First he notices the many children who don’t go to school simply because their families cannot afford the bus pass that every child must have to journey to school.  He begins to buy bus passes and little ones are now getting educated.  Then his eyes fall on children with special needs who for so long have been looked on with shame.  He arranges an opportunity for them to watch a Korean dance troupe perform and children who had barely moved for months are now swinging back and forth and laughing with glee.

But then his attention is captured first by a young man who has fallen from a ladder and is now a quadriplegic.  He has been in bed since the accident and the bed sores on his buttocks are so deeply infected that it takes months of care before they heal.  This one relationship then develops into others and our friend begins to visit precious elderly men and women who are just longing for a little bit of dignity.  It comes to him that simple things like Depends, jugs of water, and fans to ward off the afternoon heat are just little ways of showing unconditional love.  And it’s not just the things.  It’s the love in a person that comes with it-a smiling face, a warm handshake, someone other than family who actually cares to make them feel like a person.  Put simply, it’s loving your neighbor.

What happens when people begin to extend love in compassionate, caring ways?  It becomes contagious to others.  This man noticed that some of his elderly friends needed some medical care as well.  He persuaded a local doctor to begin going with him to do a few checkups.  It so touched her that now she has “adopted” some of these people and goes to see them on a regular basis.  He is multiplying himself as others see and hear of his work and want to help make a difference too.

He does need our help though.  The Depends cost about $70 a month in country which provides 2 Depends a day for one person.  It’s a little thing that makes a huge difference in someone’s life.  Think of the people in your own world whose dignity you guard so carefully.  Would you consider doing the same for another son or daughter who can’t afford the very thing that would bring some sense of self-respect to their mother or father?  Please contact us for more details.

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