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Is it worthwhile bringing young people to visit the needy? Sister Eileen Keane shares this reminiscence with us to make us think.
One of the Christian Brothers in Ireland brought a group of students to Zambia as part of their social education programme. He took them round to see various mission activities. One day he brought them to visit the Hospice for people dying of AIDS in Cicetekelo. Brother was driving them in the minibus and there was great competition among the students to be in the front seats with him. They stopped on the way to buy snacks and soft drinks for the patients.
When they arrived Eileen explained that this was not a hospital; it was a hospice. These people were suffering, dying, and many were quite alone.
“Talk to them,” she said. “That is what they want. Somebody to talk with them as human beings.”
They followed her advice, moved around and spoke to the patients, shared jokes with them. They shared the snacks and soft drinks they had brought. Finally they took out their instruments and played their music and found songs that everyone could sing. Then it was time to go.
One skeleton man in a corner bed, literally a skeleton, cried, “Wait!” He struggled to sit up. “They can’t go yet. I want to say something!”
He took a deep breath “Ladies and gentlemen,” he began, speaking formally, “ People come here, they look at us, they talk about us… but you have talked to us and with us! We are grateful!” And he sank back in the bed.
The students were weeping as they got back into the minibus. None of them struggled for the front seat beside Brother. They all got into the back!