Jao Resari, a lay missionary in Taiwan, works at Harmony Home Association
This experience is something I will never forget.
Not just because I was able to overcome my weakness with anything to do with open wounds and blood and the shock of seeing wounds at close range.
But because I never realized then that the bigger lessons in my life would be shown to me by “Didi,” my “teacher,” who was the patient whose wounds I had to clean and dress.
He doesn’t have a Masters degree, years of experience or a successful career under his belt, and the lessons he taught me are not presented in pretty packages.
The photo of Didi may disturb some readers. If you would like to see the photo, click here.
What he has is AIDS.
He has been in vegetative state for years and is in need of 24-hour care. He has skin disease and bed sores on his back, hips, and groin area from lying in bed for so long complicated by his increasing viral load and very low immune system. Some are so deep that his bones are already exposed.
The more I spend time with Didi, the more I came to realize that there must be so much pain he’s been going through with all his wounds. I cannot imagine how it would be like being conscious enough to feel the pain and discomfort, with no control of your body, unable to speak or even cry out for release.
But on the other hand, I thought to myself, if he can feel the pain, he can also feel my touch and probably hear my words. Thinking that this might give him some kind of comfort, I make sure that I talk to him, telling him what I was doing, and touching him gently as I clean and dress his wounds.
His life is slowly deteriorating one painful day at a time. His wounds are not healing. We are just trying keep away any more infection to make it easier for him. The doctors before have said many times that he will not last months. But year after year, he keeps on proving them wrong. Every time I am with him, the more I see how he was able to endure pain for such a long period of time, showing me that he was stronger than his pain, reminding me not to be afraid to face suffering.
In his complete dependence on others, he is teaching me humility and trust in others.
In his helplessness, he is teaching me about compassion – the kind that can take away insecurities and fears to be able to reach out and console him.
Lastly, Didi reminded me that I am constantly being called by God to be a person of hope especially in situations like his — with no cure, his body failing him, and his future uncertain.
He does not know it but, somehow without uttering one single word, he was able to teach me about these important values in life.
Harmony Home Association, Taiwan (HHAT), is a registered, non-profit organization committed to helping people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Members include people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) and advocates who care about the issues faced by PLHA in Taiwan. Board members of the association include people and volunteers who come from medical, academic, and religious backgrounds.
At present, we shelter and support people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS and migrant workers.
We provide shelter, treatment, medical assistance, hospice care, counseling, support group activities, employment/educational assistance, and memorial services assistance.
HIV/AIDS cases include children and adults who are HIV positive. Children from ages 0 – 12 years old are children of women who are HIV positive (some of these children are HIV positive); and adults include both women, men and gays from ages 20 – 87 years old who are in financial difficulties, homeless, unemployed, or in need of 24 hour care and treatment (i.e. patients in vegetative state; old people, mentally challenged patients).
Immigration cases include foreign men, women and babies. There are those who are also victims of human trafficking. All the cases were referred to Harmony Home by the National Immigration Agency of Taiwan.