My name is Francisco, I am a Jesuit scholastic (still in training) and I will be with Casa Ricci for one year of service. A few days ago I arrived from my first trip to places that Casa Ricci supports. After one meeting about leprosy service, where I could listen to some sharing about what is being done for the people that suffer from leper, we took a night train to another place in Yunnan. There I had the chance to meet two lovely sisters, one equally lovely lady that works with them, and especially 5 wonderful children that, not having a change to live with their own families, have here their new home.
The sisters, that are full time professors/mothers for them, have a delicate and essential role. Their mission is to love, and love means to care for the greater good of the other. While I can play and make the children laugh, the sisters have to make sure these little ones learn their first characters, eat their vegetables, wash their hands, take their medicine, etc… I had the impression the sister that is responsible for them there has the gift of being tender and strong at the same time. She will make an angry face if someone doesn’t want eat, and the next minute she will be holding the same child in the most joyful and kind embrace. I was impressed by that and also to see how the children are so polite and capable of performing their little daily tasks, and yet so much like any other children, always jumping and calling all attention, and playing and crying and being children…
I must confess that on that first day I was a little bit distracted. Before going I already knew that many of the children we serve suffer from AIDS. Maybe on that first day I was so happy to be with them, so much enriched by their joy and simplicity, that it didn’t come occur to me they were sick. Only on the way back we talked about it and suddenly I realized I had just spent the whole afternoon in the middle of children that have a very serious health problem. I don’t want to talk about it now, but it is clear that they suffer much more than they had to, due to the unfair look with which society tends to look at them, not to mention the fact that they also have complicated family stories where love often is not as abundant as it should.
The next day I came back to “my” little ones. I was happy on the way there, eager to meet those beautiful smiles (some of them already lacking a few milk teeth) again. I confess that in the first moment, and in spite of all the information that tells us AIDS is not contagious just by being friends with someone, I was still a bit unsecure about touching the children, hugging, cleaning, and breathing with them. The problem was in my mind, it was my problem, as it is society’s problem, not the children’s problem. The children were just like the day before, happy and jumping, and crying, and asking for attention and care. And so I let myself become their shushu again, and, even if I am the one who is supposed to help, I was the one who left with an enriched heart and a happy spirit. The little ones might be sick, and they might even not live many years, but it seemed to me they are as full of life as any other child. Under the loving care of the sisters, and with God’s eyes looking on them, they are certainly children beautiful future.
Finally we went to another place, a much bigger house for children and young people. The children were not there yet, because now if vacation time for them. But I did had the chance to meet the sisters and also two volunteers that will spend one full year serving there. I was very glad to meet them, and to see how joyfully they are willing to give their time and energy for those children. I returned to Macau with a feeling of consolation. It is true that there are many unfair and said things in our world. It is sad to think that, one day, those little ones will not be there anymore to receive us with shouts of excitement. It is sad how we and our society sometimes can’t see the value of those that are sick, and the importance of giving them equal changes to be happy. But to know that there are so many good people out there that want to do good, is a wonderful sign of hope, and a reminder to us that there is nothing happier than to make others happy!