By Deb Mylander
As I sat and read about all of the horrible devastation that has occurred in Haiti this week, I was struck by a story (HERE) that took my breath away. It was about a young, missing, 22 year old American woman, named Molly Hightower. (See Molly's blog HERE.) She worked with a Catholic organization that housed abandoned children and special needs children and adults. In the story there was a link to her blog which I clicked on and read. The blog was written pre-earthquake and she explained the daily struggle of these poor, helpless human beings she was working with.
Most of them were abandoned as infants or in early childhood (once their parents became aware of their disability). From her description, she cared for kids and adults with mild and severe Autism, as well as people with Down syndrome. Before the quake, the description of their daily lives was heartbreaking; sitting in rooms, without visitors or much stimulation. It reminded me of descriptions of old insane asylums...wounded souls being stuffed away to quietly rot.
As I read the story and looked at the children and adults she cared for, I became very emotional. Before the earthquake these were throw-away lives. After the earthquake how could any of them possibly survive without help? In Molly's blog there is a picture of what looks to be a 26 year old man named Daniel that is part of the disabled group that she helped serve. My mind has created a scenario of Daniel's inner-experience; of his hell.
"Pretty Molly didn't come today. I wish she would come. She gives me squishy play dough to run my fingers through and she smiles at me. I like smiles. Nobody smiles at me. Most people seem to try to escape from my presence. Something else happened today, the ground started to shake and shake. Things started falling, people started falling, and then things started falling on people. I want to scream. I want to ask what is happening but just like always the words can't leave my mouth. So I sit and I rock and I try to not let the water leave my eyes every time parts of the heavy wall fall onto my body. Then the shaking stops. When I open my eyes to look around all I see is white dirt and pieces of what used to be my home pinning me to the ground. I can see the sun trying to reach at me into the dark, dusty place but it can only touch my face with a sliver of light through a crack in the broken wall above my head. I want to yell for help. My words are still trapped, I am trapped..."
Molly's body was found and identified today (Friday, January 15, 2010). My heart goes out to her family. They should be proud that they raised such a selfless young woman. My heart also goes out to Daniel and all of the other Daniels' trapped in the rubble and wandering the devastated ruins. It is difficult to imagine being a “Daniel”. Coming from the poorest country on the earth; with a disability that gives you no voice and little understanding; without a family that claims you; alone in a land that was destroyed by an earthquake. I pray that guardian angels, both human and otherworldly, walk along side these souls and pull them out into the light.
“Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light.” ~Norman B. Rice
Deb Mylander resides in Oregon with her family.