Have you ever had a time in your life when a series of events or a long journey feels as if it is one beautiful, challenging, life-changing moment? Throughout my time in South Africa this one such moment has taken form as the days progress. My time here has been nothing short of remarkable and the longevity of this moment has affected me in ways I could have never imagined. It has been a culmination of events that have gradually built off of each other to create this moment that I am so thankfully and helplessly stuck in.
A sixteen year old boy is confronted with a serious issue at an all-boys home. When the topic of homosexuality comes up some boys scoff, tease, laugh, and react in other immature ways. All the while this older boy, who the other boys look up to, keeps a respectful demeanour throughout the entirety of the discussion. After the boys are told to strictly stay away from boys that participate in such behaviour and are dismissed, this young man finds a serious flaw in the advice given. His realization is one of overwhelming maturity: understanding that to ostracize these boys would be the greater sin and that we are called, instead, to love these boys even more than we normally would.
A learner in grade 7 is showing immense progress in his academic studies, particularly in English. It is not all due to his natural ability to understand difficult concepts, but in his unwavering work ethic. Coming from what little means he has, among other obstacles, he continues to persevere with the longing desire to continue his studies in one of the top high schools in the area. When word gets out that a scholarship will be offered to two students to said high school his work ethic grows to new heights, studying, reading, and practicing English tirelessly. The test is taken and a young boy whose academic future was uncertain has been solidified for the next five years. I know for this particular learner it is a priceless gift and an opportunity that will not be wasted.
A patient is admitted to our respite unit not knowing where or who she is. She is emaciated and slowly withering away from the monstrous disease that is AIDS. This patient is at our unit for several months, clinging to life, battling a disease that is relentless and unforgiving. As I watch this woman suffer, day-in and day-out, I can only pray for a pain-free death or a miracle. Remarkably, the latter happens. I can not explain it and struggle to comprehend her recovery. In a matter of weeks, the woman is back on her feet—walking, talking, and smiling from ear to ear. She discharges herself from the unit and has since continued to lead a full and healthy life. Ready for the next battle. Knowing she can win.
A moment can change our lives in unimaginable ways. These three events within my big moment have only furthered my commitment to my work and to those I serve. Many people I have met share the same respectful, dedicated, and courageous traits these three individuals possess. I can only hope that this moment continues to profoundly impact my life, far beyond my journey in South Africa.