Update from Sr. Susie O’Rawe on her mission in Bolivia
Sometimes my life here can be busy and overwhelming and I wonder if I am ever too small to make the slightest difference in the world, specifically in Tarija Boliva. Many years ago I was visiting a women’s community project in Ethiopia and after a business and planning meeting with the women we sat around to reflect on the concept of seemingly endless poverty. I asked the women (who earned less than a dollar a day) in this soap making project, did they ever feel like giving up with the odds stacked so highly against them? One of the best answers was from a women who had not spoken before and she said “If you ever think you’re too small to make a difference then you have never shared a room with a mosquito.”
I remembered that encounter the other day when I was making my regular weekly health visit to see the Ramos Family and I saw that the one window they had in the room they lived in, had no glass. Just a little wooden door which they had to open all day because of the heat. As a result the room is generally filled with a little cloud of flies which always seem to hover above my head! I was checking Johnathan, their 13 month old son and I noticed he had a lot of insect bites. So I said to the mother that I was going to do a quick message and would be back in 30 mins. I came back with a sheet of mosquito net and a hammer and nails and together, myself and Francisca nailed the green netting to the window.
The difference this had made to the family especially at night has been fantastic. There are definitely less flies during the day and at night they have noticed less mosquitoes. They are very happy with this small act of health intervention and it is making a difference to them.
I now carry around a hammer, nails a pair of scissors and a sheet of green netting in my rucksack and offer it to every high risk family I come into contact with during my health visits. So in the end I was taught by Francisca and her family that small things make a big difference. Yes we all know this, but it is good to be reminded of it at every level of life. I am inspired by Pope Francis “Poverty calls us to sow hope…. Poverty is the flesh of the poor Jesus, in that child who is hungry, in the one who is sick, in those unjust social structures.” In that context I hope that I have made a tiny difference in the lives of a few people and all it took on this occasion was a hammer, a few nails and a bit of green netting.
Susie O’Rawe OP