Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Just One.

Today began like most--waking up to a loud generator and welding at 7am, trying to go back to sleep but failed,"quiet time"til 9am, got dressed, put my mosquito net up, fried two eggs, responded to emails. We had some errands to run today. We left the house with the bed of the pickup truck full of food to deliver. The first stop: delivering bony (dried fish), beans and oil to nearly 30 children living in a shelter that previously served as a chicken coop. Imagine--children living where chickens once lived. They've added on to the coop, using scraps of wood and zinc; but still, this is no place for children to live. As I was trying to take everything in, I could only think (in Liberian-English), "this is not correct".

The second stop: delivering rice and oil to a young man who is enrolled at one of the few schools in Liberia that specifically is for blind students. I hadn't visited there in probably almost a year. The campus is spread out, almost sterile looking, but the hearts are big. I poked my head into the classroom, where probably 10 or 12 students were tediously writing in braille. It was fascinating! I'm not an expert, but they were using special tools to make the raised indentions in the paper...they do this on the backside, so essentially they're writing their letters in reverse and then flip the sheet over to feel the dots. There were children that were probably 7 or 8 years old, all the way up to twenty-somethings. This was the first grade class. One little boy looked up at the doorway with white, cloudy eyes, but the smile on his face was enormous. Another young boy finished spelling his spelling words aloud, and squealed in delight when he finished. He was smothered with kisses from the matron of the school. There was laughter and joking. And then, I watched as Mulbah just kept writing. He was fiercely punching away at his paper. I could only sit and watch and smile.

You see, Mulbah is about 25 years old, and he's never been in school. When he was provided with the opportunity to attend the blind school, he was scared to death. He didn't want to go because he didn't think he could do it. He would stumble around Red Light Market, trying to sell random things to make enough money to eat for the day. He knew his eyesight was quickly diminishing, and as a young man who had to be so dependent on others, he didn't have much hope.

But to see him sitting in school today, eager to learn, was a joy! He's never been able to read or write, and he didn't think he was capable. But today, he was writing...writing up a storm! He's also in charge of the chickens, pigs and garden at the school, along with trying to teach a new student English and cooking up a storm in the kitchen. We were joking that soon Mulbah would be running the place. To see him smile and to hold his head high with pride...I could only think 'this is what it's all about!' As I got back into the truck I said, "I want to go to this school!" because despite circumstances, there was so much laughter, joy and celebration in that classroom!

There are some days when the problems and situations seem overwhelming. You start to think in terms of 'this is good for the whole' or 'if only I can reach just one'. I've been thinking about those things alot over the past few days, and today I came to the conclusion that I'm here for the ones. Yes, I love the groups and the alls and the wholes...but I tend to search out the ones. I'm here to make a difference to the ones, which trumps trying to make some sort of difference to the wholes. I'm here to fight for the ones that nobody else will fight for and to love the unlovely ones. That's my task...just one.

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