Lisa’s smile

If the frequent smile of a child is a good indicator of a comfortable and pleasant children’s life,

 then we can conclude without much hesitation that the children in Hand in Hand seem to be happy, because happiness and lust for life are everywhere here. Most children are running about joyfully, they are laughing, playing, horsing around and dancing or they are casually making music. Many big and small worries of the world are going by completely unnoticed by them, which is all for the better one would think …..!
Of course, there are also children in PCC who can hardly – or even not at all -walk, let alone run, and who are depending on other people for many or even all activities in their daily lives.
This is also the case for Lisa. She came – just like Stephen and Joel – from the Children’s Home in Kumasi. Lisa is about 14 years old and she has been in Hand in Hand for 10 years now and she is seriously disabled. She is completely paralysed and she is only able to move her head just a little, she is depending on the help of others for everything. She cannot talk, so we can only try and understand her feelings and wishes by watching the look in her eyes and her facial expression.
In the mornings she enjoys an hour of physiotherapy and the rest of the day she is lying and looking around in her stroller and sometimes she is smiling. She is part of the Daycare group and fortunately they are taking care of her in a wonderful way, each and every day.
Feeding Lisa three times a day is not an easy task. Caregivers like Diana and Felicia are really proficient at this in the mean time, they are constantly talking to Lisa while feeding Lisa spoon after spoon until she has finished her meal. Some volunteers have also mastered this technique, although it often takes them more time, but this doesn’t matter, it is the result that counts.
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When I am standing next to Lisa, I in all honesty often feel a kind of powerlessness, she is just lying there in her stroller and there is so little we can do for her. And when I am looking at her a little longer, a feeling of sadness is rising inside of me, sadness because of the hard fact that life seems to offer so very little to Lisa. We can only look after her, care for her and give her enough of our attention. Luckily a lot of attention is coming her way in PCC and the beauty of it is that she is able to show us her appreciation by frequently offering us her wonderful smile.
Lisa’s smile is absolutely disarming and of an exceptional beauty. However, I do not dare to assert that Lisa, because she is laughing at us, will be happy, it is not that simple. Because time after time looking at Lisa confronts me with the fact that some of our children have little or no opportunities to give substance to their own lives in any way. Because of their serious disabilities they are forever depending on others. Surely, this is not the way the lives of Lisa and other children like her were meant to be?? What qualities does her life have and in what way can we judge and relate to this kind of life? I know we do not get answers to these kinds of questions, pity, we can only reflect on it.
One thing’s for sure: Lisa was born seriously disabled, that’s the way it is. She is living in Hand in Hand and she can’t help that she is suffering from these severe impairments.
Lisa is, just like all of us, a unique Child of God. The questions about her life of serious disabilities will surely pop up now and then, but at the same time I am very proud and happy that we are able to look after her well and offer her much love and security in PCC. And her marvellous smile is the most precious gift Lisa can offer us.