Upfront Awareness-Baphumulele Children
Posted on February 10th, 2011 in Bare Witness Humanitarian Tour 2011 by csabatini
I gained a lot of awareness today at the Baphumulele Children’s Home. This loving and stable environment aims to provide a permanent home for children who have been orphaned, abandoned, abused, or neglected. We had the honor of meeting and playing with some of these beautiful children today. Upon reflection and processing time this evening, I took a moment to look back at the day spent. I sorted out how pieces of happiness were created simply by smiling into these kid’s eyes and sharing their joy with mine.
As I reflected on the day, I thought about all of the different interactions I had with the children. More importantly, I acknowledged the test of empathy and sympathy that stood before me in each these interactions. Sympathy is a feeling of pity for the suffering of another, an impulse of sorrow for someone else’s misfortune. Quite differently, empathy shows up in our ability to understand and equally share feelings of another, free of misconceptions of any kind. I considered how I was perceiving the precious lives before me – with empathy or sympathy? Was I taking words like, neglect, poor, HIV/AIDS, sick, abused, and molding each child into my own preconceived notions? Or in the midst of everything, could I find the strength of empathy over sympathy?
Instead of creating assumptions or concluding stories, I moved beyond this and saw through the eyes of each child. Here, I discovered all of the purity and presence that existed in each of them and in each moment with them. Empathy shined and was clearly reflected throughout the experiences of the day. Instead of experiencing feelings of sorrow for the sufferings and misfortunes of their lives, I looked in the direction of happiness. It was deep in their eyes that I found it.
The unity was also there. I could hear their laughter in the echo of mine, our dance rhythms synchronized, our voices clear and understood. Today, I reveled in baking biscuits, stringing beads, and exhaling through an upside down lion’s roar in camel pose, all kid friendly and inspired by these beautiful children and their innocence. This day brought so much to the surface, providing a great reminder to reflect on our experiences in order to gain better insight of ourselves and the environment around us.
by Christina Sabatini
Christina Sabatini is a Global Seva Challenge 2010 participant.