We drove about 2 hours to a very remote village where we spent the day seeing over 200 children, and fair number of adults. Medical, dental, water filtration, public health education, and first aid training all done under the sun, heat unbearable, no wind, and some relief from the shade. A large Muslim population lead by an imam, were wary at first, then open to exams, then becoming increasingly anxious as the time approached for us to leave, knowing that many who had been waiting would not be seen. It is difficult to say "no more patients" today. The children were malnourished, sickly overall, tired and lacking any semblance of a happy emotion. I looked at their faces and realized how little they have to be joyous about. And we think we have it bad sometimes. I wonder just how much I could take living the life they live. Not much I bet. I probably would hope for the best, and expect the worst.
So the question posed is this: just how bad does it have to get for us before we throw in the towel and say I give up? From what I saw today, there were a whole lot of people who had thrown in the towel a long time ago, accepted the hand that had been dealt them, and learned to live with what they had. They had nothing. Not much to learn to live with. Did we make a difference today? Yes we did. Not by giving them medications, pulling teeth, bringing in a water filtration system, nor by teaching them first aid. What we did is validate those we saw as worthy of being recognized as human beings, worthy of being loved and cared about, and giving them a sense of dignity. One person even said as much. A mother of a disabled child knew that we could not do much for him. Small head, injured brain, unable to walk, nor sit. But the smile he gave us when we reached out to him and held him without shying away from his inadequacies, gave his mother validation as how ell she was caring for him and how much he meant to her. And how much he means to us. Life is what it is and face it; we don't really have it that bad, even on our worst days.
In all things give thanks,