Today I sat with a dear soul and listened as she shared her heartache of her journey of life. She comes from South America and her husband from Eastern Europe, though they met and married in her home town in South America. Her husband had lived there since the age of 11, having escaped with his mother from a communist country. Years later, because of political turmoil where the government in this South American country was hunting down all communists; they decided to immigrate to Australia, with their two infant daughters.
She shared how her daughter became ill and she took her to the hospital and was told it was only a heavy cold. Seven times she brought her daughter back to the hospital and because those days they had no translation service, the communication was very difficult, and was made through the few people who actually cared through a English / Spanish dictionary. Eventually her daughter went into a coma and was diagnosed with bacterial encephalitis. Day by day she spent a bedside vigil at her 2 year old daughter bedside talking to her and praying that God would heal her.
The medical staff on a whole treated her dismally. Some showed anger, others just dismissed her. With a smile she shared how there was one doctor who couldn’t speak her language came up to her and patted her on the shoulder with a gentle comforting touch. I could tell that the memory of that one moment of touch meant such a lot to her as her face softened and she broke into a smile. She then continued on with her story.
She was told don’t bother praying and prepare for death, for her daughter would die. But amazingly she pulled through, thought she was discovered to have suffered some measure of brain damage from this sickness. Her daughter is now forty years old. And due to her intellectual disability has become a full fledged member of the marginalised in our society. This dear soul shared her pain of working through the guilt of not being able to make the medical staff understand her daughter was very sick. She spoke of the pain, the anger and even bitterness her husband and herself carried all these years about how perhaps their daughter could have been treated right away and therefore recovering to live a full and normal life.
Forty years ago, the establishment wanted to put her daughter into a ‘special’ home, but this precious mother continued with her story of how she insisted NO! Instead she would look after her at home. Forty years ago there were few if any services she could draw on for help. There was little support. And again she shared her difficulty of finding a school that would let her in. After trying nine different schools, eventually they found a private school which would give their daughter the help that was needed, without letting her fall through the cracks of being considered a societal retard, not worthy of an education.
There was a huge financial cost to sending her daughter to school. There was little money left over for anything else. But the family pulled together, her husband working hard, taking every bit of over time he could, and she did a little part time work on a weekend from time to time. What struck me about this couple is that though they were poor in finances, and they were still not in the best financial shape today; this mother was rich. She was filthy rich in love.
After she poured out her life story to me, I offered to pray with her, an offer which caused her face to light up. It was an offer she gratefully accepted. And so with her permission I kindly laid my hand on her shoulder, and prayed that she and her husband would know the Lord’s continual love in their lives. That he would be able to heal their traumatic memories of the past, help them to forgive and lift the burden of bitterness and anger from them. I prayed for their daughter. This lady stood taller, grabbed my hand, looked into my eyes and said, “Thank you! I so needed that. And I am so looking forward to meeting again next month.”
This lady shared with me how important our organisation was to her. It was the much needed link and network that helped prevent her from snapping from the pressures of life. It was the link that connected her and her family from being marginalised in society to being a full fledged member of society. One that treated them with dignity and respect. One that empowered them to continue to keep on keeping on.
Today was the first day of a revamped monthly Carer’s Support Group for Karelle Life Enrichment Services. It’s a charity that ministers to those with intellectual disability and their family and carers. In the past we have run activities for the carers and family of our clients. But because of deep financial constraints, all we could do today is offer a listening ear, a cup of tea and prayer.
In closing, I am going to do something I have never done on in my 7 years of blogging history. And in some ways am a little hesitant to do this, but I feel it is right and proper to do so. I am the chairman of the management committee as well as the pastoral care team leader for clients, family, staff and volunteers of this important charity that runs entirely by volunteers. We are desperately in need of funds between now and the end of the financial year to continue this important ministry. I ask you, will you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry, so that we can continue to minister to those on the edges of our society.
Bless you. Craig Bennett.