Last week I made my second visit to Fundamor, a local orphanage that cares for children affected by HIV/AIDS, to deliver the gait trainer that Keely so generously brought with her from the U.S. last month. While teaching the physical therapist how to fit the walker to a little guy with cerebral palsy and use it to advance his walking pattern, I had the privilege of learning more about the mission and programs of the wonderful place that is Fundamor. Let me tell you a story (paraphrased and translated, of course) that was told to me by a little girl who resides there.
There once was a little butterfly who loved to fly. She lived on a farm overlooking the countryside and spent her days exploring the gardens and the trees and the mountains. One day while exploring, a cat scratched the little butterfly with its paw, damaging its wings and making it impossible to fly anymore. The butterfly was very sad she was injured and had to leave the beautiful farm to go to the hospital. When she arrived, she was afraid of the doctors and nurses and there were many other creatures she didn’t know. However, much to her surprise she soon began to like the hospital. The doctors were very kind, everyone took care of her hurt wing and she eventually found good friends in the ants, who were also patients at the hospital. The little butterfly grew happier and happier as she grew healthier every day and she eventually was able to fly again, a little at a time. While she couldn’t fly back to the farm because of the dangerous cat, she learned to think of the hospital as her new home, full of love and care. Everyone once in a while the little butterfly does gets sad thinking of the farm she loved so much, but she comforts herself with the dream that one day, not so far away, she could find have a new home with a family that loves her just as much as all the wonderful people at the hospital do.
The teller of this story recently won a UNICEF writing contest with her tale and as she revealed to me after sharing it, she is the butterfly. She came to Fundamor after a blood test necessitated by a deep cat scratch, much like the butterfly’s, showed that she had HIV. Since her arrival, she has grown to appreciate more than just the medical care provided at Fundamor, which would not be available to her where she resided previously. She now sees Fundamor as a school, a gathering place for friends and a refuge from the cruel cat that changed her life forever. After the afternoon I spent at Fundamor, I too see it as a refuge. A safe haven where the pains of this world are nursed by a group of wonderful caregivers, teachers, doctors and therapists. A place where disability takes a back seat to ability and above all, a home where kids can grow with the knowledge that they are loved and valued.
What a wonderful place to be a butterfly.