Saturday, March 3, 2012
I have written about Una gota en el oceano in the past years, it is the homeless shelter that used to be called Casa Damasco. Today I went there for the first time this season with some friends. The Mexican Government only allows foreigners to do volunteer work for 5 weeks with a tourist visa (which is what I have), I left my volunteering for my last 5 weeks here thinking that my house would be all set up by then, little did I know that setting up a home from scratch takes a lot longer. I am comfortable in it and don’t care if it doesn’t all get done this year. I will need something to do next year as well.
So off I went to Una gota en el oceano, some people from years past where still there, some had passed on, and there were some new people as well, as is the case each year. The house is staffed with a cook, and a couple that do all the daily work that needs doing and there is a nurse that visits once a week as well. Basically all they want from us volunteers now is just to love these people and help them to regain some dignity that has been lost from years of abuse of some kind, living on the street, being discarded by family because of illnesses or disability, living in poverty, being orphaned, so many scenarios as to why someone ends up homeless.
At first I just walked around and shook hands and greeted everyone, lunch was served and I walked around and wiped faces and hands, some of the people can still feed them selves but it can get a little messy sometimes. One man was covered in food after he was done and as I wiped his face and his hands my heart just went out to him, I am not sure why but his one hand was all curled up and it seemed his legs were semi paralyzed, possibly MS. As I wiped his hands with a damp cloth I started to gently massaging them and he seemed to like that so I decided he was going to get a pedicure. We had come prepared to give foot massages and pedicures but since we didn’t have time to do everyone we were going to determine who needed it most and who would be open to that, I decided I had found my candidate. A basin of water was found, some soap and clean towels, some hydrogen peroxide and some Iodine and I went to work. I have a hard time putting into words how surreal it was to feel a grow man basically surrender himself to me, he was in a wheel chair so he couldn’t escape, not that he wanted too, I felt he totally enjoyed the interaction, the attention, I did communicate with him in Spanish (I can finally do that now) but I felt that he was so vulnerable because he couldn’t run away, his body was weak, he couldn’t sit upright or hold his head up, I felt so honoured that he allowed me into his space. I didn’t feel worthy to be there. It was as if that kind of intimacy and trust needed to be earned and I didn’t feel I had earned that having just met him to day. I washed and massaged his feet, and his hands, cleaned and clipped his toe and finger nails. I just kept thinking “what if he was my grandpa or my father” I fell in love with him. My time with him was over too soon.
I used to feel so helpless when going there but I don’t anymore because I have finally come to realize that all that is needed is love and God will do the rest and if you feel that you don’t have enough love to give there, God will supply that as well if you ask. I went back and read some of my stories that I wrote in 2008 and I now shake my head at myself, I didn’t get it then, I was too focused on the lack of clean dish cloths. I finally got it through my head that you can’t change the way the people do things here, they don’t use dish cloths, a cloth is a rag to them and will be used as a rag, so when you go there don’t wash the dishes with their rags and complain it’s dirty, and go to the store to buy new “rags” only to find them used as “rags” the next week. lol, I laugh at this now. I don’t even use a dish cloth in my house here anymore. I’m getting it, slowly.