It was a hot sunny day like all of the rest in Uganda, Africa. The sweat trickled down my back as we bounced around on the uneven dirt roads in the back country of Mbarara. My youth sponsor and I were accompanying two nurses on their hospice visit. Only a sophomore in high school, I didn’t know what to expect and definitely didn’t know the impact that this experience would have on me.
We pulled over to the side of the road and walked to the house; or rather a shack making do for a house. We knocked on the door and were led into a dark, small room. A young woman was lying on a mattress on the floor with blankets covering her. As the nurses bent down to treat her, the woman pulled away her upper garment to expose a cancerous breast about three times the size of a normal one. As the nurses gave her shots of diluted morphine, tears slowly rolled down her cheeks.
I believe in helping the less fortunate. I believe that nobody deserves to live a life like that. It’s not her fault that she happened to be born into a family that didn’t have the money to pay for surgery. All she could do was lie there; seeing her family slip away like sand through her fingers. It’s not fair that I was born into a middle class family with parents who have an education and jobs in order to get all of the basic needs, and way more. It’s not fair that I get health care and if I have anything wrong with me, I get attention right away. But if I am given gifts, I believe I should use them to help others. If I was in their situation, I know would want people to help me.
Since I was born, church has been a big part of my life. Being a Mennonite Christian has taught me to “treat others the way I would like to be treated.” It has taught me to follow Jesus in my daily life. I look at Jesus and see the way he treated the lepers, the sick, the dieing, and then I know how I should live my life.
Afterwards we learned more about this woman. She was a young woman; in her 20’s. After her condition worsened, her husband had sent her away to live with her family. She was living with her brother, his wife and kids; while back at home she had one or two kids of her own. The hospice workers visited her to comfort and pray with her and to help ease her pain with the morphine (the only medicine they had). She had advanced cancer at this point and hadn’t much time to live.
I believe in treating others the way I would like to be treated. I believe in unalienable rights where everyone should have life’s basic needs. I believe that the important thing in life is not money or power, but the fact that everyone can go through life without having to think about whether they will be able to feed themselves, their spouse, and their families. I believe in the sacredness of life. I believe that a dieing woman has taught me more than any classroom can ever teach me.
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