by Jessica Anderson, volunteer in Dakar, Senegal
"F. has been friends with our Heart’s Home for 21 years, since the very beginning. She works at Mbeaubeaus - Dakar’s dump- doing extremely difficult labor for hardly any salary. F. is probably one of our friends that suffers the most for a variety of reasons: marriage/family-wise, financially wise, and also from loneliness. When she’s sick there’s no one who takes care of her, so we invited her to rest at our house for a week during Holy week and Easter.
She arrived Wednesday night in complete physical suffering. Her entire body hurting and tired, she couldn’t do much but leave her bed. I started to pray and took charge of giving her all of her numerous medicines throughout the day. Therefore, I spent a lot of time with her and I was really touched by the trust that started to build from this relation. It’s true that the way to build a friendship is through fidelity. On Good Friday, the day of the passion of Christ, F. was also suffering a sort of passion. There was a parallel hard to mistake in F. with the suffering Jesus that I didn’t realize until later. Throughout the day I would walk in her room, her body hot with fever and her groaning in pain. In the evening, Charlotte and I gave her a massage with mint leaves to try and help her relax her tired muscles a bit. As I was massaging her feet and legs and Charlotte her shoulders, Charlotte remarked, “You know, I was a bit sad all day because Jesus (in the Eucharist) isn’t in the chapel. But then I realized that he’s just outside the chapel,” gesturing to F. That’s it! That’s exactly it. In this moment, I realized my mission more clearly than ever: tending to the wounded Christ, our wounded humanity.
F. is better now. Keeping in rhythm with Jesus, she was better by Easter Sunday. She was healed on the feast of Jesus: He resurrected and she did too. F. dressed in a beautiful BouBou and even danced. "Without Heart’s Home," she said, "I think I would have already died. Because of you and your real friendship, I am not alone."