Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Love heals all that it touches

Bound to a wheelchair, missing copious amounts of his teeth, ironically the few that remain look desperately lacking, struggling to place his useless leg upon the foot piece of his all too familiar wheelchair, Dten forces a crooked smile resembling that of a stroke victim.
Dten, a southern Thai Moslem, orphaned as a young boy by a well-off family due to the mother’s hasty departure to be with her lover, still smiles. He was crippled by an accident that took four lives in his mid-twenties, yet he still smiles.
It’s hard work to smile, yet he works conscientiously to achieve this feat. He has no bathroom to relieve himself, but he still smiles as his 80-year-old adoptive grandmother collects his morning waste in a plastic bag to dispose of into the dirty slum in which they inhabit some ignoble lean-to. He smiles as he pushes his wheelchair that has been long missing the rubber to run its wheels smoothly. He smiles and concentrates as he gives it his all to push the cumbersome chair backwards for he has no strength to push it forward all in an attempt to gather some water in a cheap plastic bucket to wash with.
Widowed Granny, cloaked in the inexpensive Islamic dress of those who suffer poverty along with her elderly daughter smile also in great humility thinking nothing of looking after someone they have no obligation to help. Concerned only for his welfare after Granny dies, she prays for a way to solve their dilemma. She prays, smiles, laughs and cries secret tears.
An unassuming figure dressed in a yellow head dress notices something amongst the movement of daily life all familiar within the slum. She is trained to. She is a volunteer working alongside the dedicated staff at the Lagnu hospital in Satun—which is not a planet by the way, it so happens to be the name of the province. Here Buddhists, Muslims, highly educated doctors and uneducated peasants work side by side to make life better for the surrounding communities rife with HIV, disabilities and poverty. She spots him; she deftly secures the needed information that spurs the hospital into action.
The hospital team seek him out, surprised to discover that he has been unable to walk for five years mainly due to fear of failure, not knowing where to start and utter helplessness.
The beautiful nurses, the dedicated peasant volunteer and his ‘family’ all get behind him to work towards mobility. The slum comes out to watch.
His large framed body is a contradiction to his disability. But he must work at rebuilding his useless leg and arm; he does so amidst cheers and through pure determination for weeks on end.
Then appears a walker, he timidly looks at it, holds his breath, is forced to his feet and takes his first steps in half a decade. The community is astonished. He is jubilant.
Faith is born, he studies daily and is about to complete grade six so that he can find some time of work. While still confined to a wheelchair for the most part, he is ambulatory to a degree and he has spirit to keep on fighting.
Today, he came to the hospital where I was invited to view the local projects, inspire and share some ideas with staff and volunteers. He spoke his piece—through contorted facial expressions but ever so poignant. He said how grateful he was that he was not forgotten. He was given public recognition, media coverage, donations and clothing and last of all and
the only thing that I could offer him, a touch of love, a tight hug, a huge kiss and words of admiration for his wondrous bravery and commented on his bright handsome face.
He beamed as he came to life. “ Handsome? Me? Handsome?” His face registered quizzically and as fast as the thought came, he responded with how beautiful I was in English. We all laughed, cried and hugged. It still always amazes me how such a small deed of love can have such an incredible impact!
He is under continuous care, he will do better and not only that I contacted a large TV program here who promised to look into doing a feature on him and hopefully bring assistance to his poverty stricken conditions. After all, if anyone deserves the help, he and his family do.
It was great to be a part of many folk’s efforts to make a difference to just one important soul.
Cultural and religious gulfs were bridged in a very troubled area by love and with this miracle came new beginnings for me.
New beginnings indeed as I have been invited to assist the Hospital Accreditation Institute under the Ministry of Health with their new pilot project as a volunteer and advisor. “JIT ASAR” the name of the project means Humanized Care and that is just what this project embodies.
We will be working with a team of six accredited hospitals from every corner of Thailand combined with doctors, nurses and other health officials from the Institute. Together we will inspect and critique the “Loving Hands” projects of the six hospitals and then convene a workshop to analyze and summarize our findings. These findings will be put together in a workable format for 200 hospitals nationwide to implement.
I am very excited as I see it a great opportunity to Change the World with Love! Also it fits perfectly with another project that I am starting at The Central Chest and Lung Hospital here in Nonthaburi through teaching the staff English and visiting HIV and Cancer Patients.
Additionally, I plan to continue carrying out any other care-giving projects that frequently comes my way, as well as the weekly visits to Bang Kwang Prison and the Women’s Shelter to encourage the women, children and HIV positive patients residing there.
Love is great but don’t wait to catch it, be a carrier and pass it on to as many as possible.

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