They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. They are the view of memories far and long. Ears hear the sounds of joy and sorrow, noise and silence. Fingers and hands touch rough and smooth. One holding in embrace and other torn by enemy, violence and pain.
South Africa has only seen democracy for 28 years. Apartheid, the systematic implementation of being “apart.” The word, Zulu in origin, burns. Violence and pain both mental and physical. Body and soul. Yet no bitterness is tasted by those they share it with.
It is these eyes that have witnessed the life that once was, so many and so few years before. We are at an elderly home today. Most placed by a social service program. Long forgotten by family; some who cannot care for but most who do not wish to. They are found on streets and homes, abandoned without food or water, drink or electricity. Their new home exists like a ward from an old movie. Bleached and spare with beds lining the walls on each side in a large room with buzzing fluorescent lights that blink on and off. The lingering smell of urine and sweat and food and cleaning solutions.
The residents sit in chairs waiting to be seen. Those deep dark and wide eyes watching the band of blue march in. Equipment and medical supplies, smiles and spirit. For each of these people today will be seen and heard and held and cared for. We will treat the mind as well as the body and the soul. They have all lived through terrible times to only wait for their peace when it is their time.
We can help with the pain, the ailments and the infection. We can only offer warmth and love, secrets and understanding for the other pain they hold. We intertwine hands and look into the eyes that hold visions much to awful to imagine. Victims and heroes, mothers and fathers, sisters and children. Violence and prayers for peace. All gone and at once alone.
We see the entire home. No one is missed. No one left alone. EveryONE matters.
Today, we let them share their memories and their worries. We take away their pain with our voices and our arms. We embrace and we hear. We heal, and those we cannot we offer strength.
Either way, today there is no Apartheid, they are only together as one. We say good bye and wish upon them new memories for those who have crossed their paths today. Those who have said we are with you and today you are not alone.
What to say about leading this amazing team. You were the change we want to see in the world. You brought kindness, skill, humor and compassion on your every day in South Africa. I am so very humbled and proud of your work and dedication to those who needed our embraces and love. Remember everyONE matters. And you can change the world one kind act at a time. – Evelyn, South Africa Team Leader