27 Dec 2000
A LITTLE BIT OF COMPASSION
If you are capable of reading and understanding this article, you should consider yourself one of the privileged people. Millions of others cannot read due to no fault of theirs. Some are retarded, others were denied access to school and some do not have sight at all.
Recently, my wife and other women of the Christian Women Fellowship made an evangelisation trip to the Bulu Centre for the Blind. This is an institution located on the outskirts of Buea (Cameroon) and its purpose is to train blind people to lead independent lives. When the women returned from Bulu, I noticed that my wife was looking depressed. When asked about their mission, she replied, “One has to pray always because there is suffering out there.” She listed the litany of woes that is the lot of inmates of this institution. She narrated one moving encounter between a ten-year old girl who lost her sight a couple of months back and her visiting former teacher. This unfortunate girl hadn’t fully understood the gravity of her problem. In situations like hers, every word of compassion even from a stranger seems to evoke hope. Here was the voice of her teacher. This was a voice of hope. She must have vividly remembered the difficult academic questions the teacher used to solve for her with ease. Alas, she must have thought that the teacher has come to solve this other problem. With excitement she naively inquired from the teacher whether she will ever see with her eyes again? The embarrassed teacher was speechless. That question stirred powerful emotions. Both the teacher and the CWF women found themselves fighting back tears. Without being told all of them knew the girl didn’t want a negative answer. They did not have a positive one for her either. I certainly wouldn’t have wished to be in their shoes.
If you make a survey, you will be startled to note that most people have never paid a visit to a prison, orphanage or some handicap centre. They are too busy to spare their precious time for such ‘irrelevant’ visits. They are busy solving their personal problems. Many people do not know that it is mutually beneficial to interact with the less privileged. A friendly word or a handshake to the downtrodden is highly appreciated. These people suffer more from society’s indifference to their plight than from their condition proper. By interacting with them, you learn to appreciate and be thankful for the advantages you have over them. The more you go close to them the more you discover your stupidity. Go close to them and you will feel guilty for having occasionally misused your freedom, your eyes, mouth, brain, hands and feet. Great lessons can be learnt from these ‘wretched of the earth’ that are deprived of the above. These are powerful lessons from the powerless that no university on earth is equipped to teach.
Copyright ã Dec. 2000 by Njei Moses Timah
Njei Moses Timah [e-mail]