New Humanity Movement

Health: Person, Environment



A wounded man arrives in hospital: he’s a thief, and no-one wants to see to him. Until L.H…..

by Paolo Balduzzi

It’s one of the most dangerous places in the world: yes, because in this little jewel of the Great Lakes, embedded like a precious pearl in the land surrounded by Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, it is easy to become sick and develop the feared “African Sickness”.

They say that if this sickness really exists, you will find it in Burundi, where the landscapes, the colours, and nature itself, once experienced, become part of you forever.

But Burundi is even a “thief”: situated deep in the heart of Africa it steals your heart and leaves a mark on your soul that will change like its hills; the impressive power of its tambourinaires, the sacred tambourines, is similar to the smiles of the people that together with their experiences leave an indelible mark on you.

An example of this is Doctor H.L. who works in this country in the hospital of Bujumbura.

He is a doctor like any other, however at the same time he is well aware that a Christian, besides being a well-prepared professional needs a greater conscience, so as to be able to “cure” the others.

This can be explained through something that happened some time ago. H.L. explains: «One day, in the hospital where I work as a surgeon, some policemen brought in a wounded man who was different from the others. He was a thief who had been wounded in his pelvis and in his left thigh during a shoot-out. No-one came forward to help him: he was a delinquent and was therefore condemned to be always alone. Even the other patients and the nursing staff were not happy to have him in the ward. 

How should one act, according to the Gospel, in such circumstances?

I understood what I had to do during a staff meeting when I tried to explain to my colleagues, without success, that we had to look after him in the same way that we look after the others.

At a certain moment I asked myself: “I am asking the others to love this neighbor, but in what way have I given him any special attention? By prescribing some medicines, by having made the plaster for him? That was only my duty. I had to do that which I was asking others to do”.

I decided to bring the patient out of the ward and I began to wash him myself. He was very happy and told me “Oh! Nearly two months have passed since I had a good wash….it is so good to feel the sun’s rays again!”
Then I asked one of the maids of the hospital to wash the patient’s clothes, offering to pay for the service. I then asked another helper to put him back in bed and he decided not to put him back on the dirty mattress he had been on, but went to look for another one.

I then left a small sum of money for the patient. From that day the hospital staff started looking after him.
That gesture of sharing the man’s predicament produced its fruit; it made the other patients more compassionate towards the man and they started to share their food with him.

He can now walk and he is happy. He said that he does not want to go back to stealing and that he is ready to answer for his wrong-doing in front of a judge”.

Actions can change hearts more than words, and they mark the soul in a way that is difficult to forget».

© Photo Copyright MikeBlyth, Creative Commons License

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