Who says you can´t conquer the world form your bed? October 27, 2015 - Mexico
"You learn much easier by playing. That’s why the girls love to visit me and spend some time reading and doing math," Mabel* stops for a minute and then adds, "of course it’s also because of the affection," She smiles.
Mabel with Laura, one of our caregivers and one of her close friends in the home.
With the one hand she can still move slightly. Mabel gently conducts playful activities with a stick with the children who visit her every week to learn how to read and do juggling with numbers. They sing the times table, design alphabet posters, and receive kind attention from their teacher.
If there is one thing that Mabel does not lack, it is kindness. She wears a motherly smile each time you open the door to her room, located in our home’s clinic. The children of our home like to visit their ‘hermana mayor’ (older sister); the younger ones come for their playful lessons, the older ones for motherly advice and honest sympathy.
Mabel vividly remembers the day when she was a little girl, lying in bed without being able to move her legs and was told that she would never be able to stand up again. There was nobody who could care of her, so she was forced to live in a hospital for a year until someone came to her and asked if she wanted to learn how to read. “That was the day that changed my life.” On that same day, many years ago, that same person brought little Mabel to our home at NPH, which became a true home for her.
After finishing middle school, Mabel began working in our school, teaching the children the same way she had been taught to read and count. She still remembers the first preschool children that she taught back then. “Two of them are currently studying at the University in Monterrey. Imagine how proud I am. Every time they visit us here in Miacatlán for anniversaries and for Christmas, they visit me and call me ‘Auntie.’ These little girls,” she points with her stick, “will go to university someday, too.”
“That little beauty over there, for example,” she says as she points to one of her students, *Lilian, who is lying on the floor and singing the alphabet. “Me and her, we have a little secret; a little deal, so to say. At first she did not believe that she could learn to read, and when she read her first sentence aloud and fluently, she was paralyzed and just stared at me. Imagine how much happiness she felt in that moment. Now she reads really well, and it’s not necessary to come to my classes anymore. But she likes my classes very much, so we agreed to not tell her caregiver that she has already learned to read until Christmas, so that we can see each other more often.“
Lilian comes over and calls her “Auntie“ so she starts to talk about the meaning of family. She concludes with, “Family? That is someone who really cares for you, and I have a big family.”
And Mabel does have a big family within and outside our home.
There is for example the boy with whom she shared her clinic-room with in her first days at NPH, who was the one to teach her to read the same playful way she is teaching today. Or Sarah, our weekend-nurse, who has been taking care of Mabel for 20 years now, and whom Mabel lovingly calls ‘Mother.’ Or there is also Laura, who is the caregiver of the girls visiting Mabel today, has been her good friend for years, and whom she calls her `sister`.
Many more people here feel close to Mabel, because she is not only a good teacher and child-whisperer, but also a very strong, self-confident, and wise woman. The hundreds of stories that she tells from her bed are always sprinkled with sly humor because she sees things with her heart. For many of us here in the home she is not only a ‘sister,’ but also an example of strong will and loving nature which she never lost during her life-long battle with her health.
And for Lilian, she is just Mabel, her auntie who taught her the magic of reading.
*Names changed for privacy purposes.
Konstantin Bilozertsev Communication Officer
You may be only one person in the world, but you may be all the world to one child.
—Fr. William Wasson