Ask any of us who have been at a Selection Day and we’ll all tell you there is that person that tugs just a little extra on your heart strings and they are your “one”. Last year it was a boy with palsy who I carried to the prayer station because that was the only thing I could do for him. Even though there was no selection day in Benin this year, I still have my “one”.
It should have been Lucia’s day. This morning she should’ve been somewhere in a line of thousands waiting to be seen by one of our pre-screening nurses, hopefully then directed through to the next stations until she received her yellow appointment card and had her patient photo taken. Instead, today Lucia got up and went to work as usual.
I met Lucia after a meeting at SONACOP, she was sweeping the stairs with her head down but she looked up as I passed and I saw her goiter. Philip was with me and we looked at each other and turned around to go talk to her. When asked if she knew of Mercy Ships she slowly said yes. We started explaining the ship was returning and watched her face change as her eyes lit up and watered and she stopped us. She told us how in 2009 she had gone to the screening day but back then her goiter was very small and it wasn’t possible for a surgery at that time. As you can imagine it’s grown a little since then.
Now, I have a very limited knowledge of goiters and what we can and can’t operate on when it comes to them, but I do know that on Selection Day everyone that shows up is given their few minutes to be evaluated by someone who sees the person beyond the physical issue. And that is what Lucia hoped for… Another chance to be seen.
Last week I went back to SONACOP and shared the update with Lucia and let her know there wouldn’t be a Selection Day, answered her questions, heard her sigh of disappointed understanding and took her contact information.
As we drove away I couldn’t help but think how Ebola has such a massive ripple effect, there are the deaths itself, but you also see healthcare systems ravaged, economies suffering, civil unrest and across West Africa many international businesses, governments and NGOs are having to make difficult programmatic changes, which, in turn have even more ripple effects. Lucia (and the other thousands we might have seen today) is just one of them.
So now it is my prayer that Lucia, my one, knows deep down in her heart that she is valued and known and that she never gives up hoping for something better.