We are the wings of those who cannot fly
By: Francesca di Maolo, Avvenire.
For 150 years, the Seraphic Institute has taken care of children and young people with serious disabilities. Over the years, the needs of the people who cross its threshold have changed, and consequently so have our actions. But our mission is always the same: to bring fullness to the lives of the most vulnerable.
To protect life to the fullest, we need to have a clear understanding of the value of a human being: under all circumstances and beyond any limit or illness. It is precisely the recognition of the value of the other that has motivated us in these 150 years, a long journey that has been like sailing in the open sea, inspired by love along the path of fraternity. Life is extraordinary and it can always surprise us.
Many believe that situations like ours are full of pain. Certainly, I don’t deny it. Besides the most vulnerable life we experience suffering, but also joy, the authentic joy that takes you by surprise in front of the autonomy conquered by children and their amazement at the beauty that surrounds us. I’m thinking of David, who was brought here at the age of three, almost in a vegetative state, after a very serious accident that claimed the lives of his parents. The doctors at the hospital had told us that David was doomed to his condition, with perhaps only very slight improvements.
But I saw him slowly come back to life in the hands of extraordinary caregivers, who not only are highly competent and professional but who, driven by an impulse from the heart, never give up. Also for David it seemed that destiny had written his whole story, without a mother nor a father, and with eyes that seemed unable to perceive anything around him. I remember when one day I opened the door to the music therapist’s room. I found David stretched out on the grand piano: while the therapist Paola was playing the piano, Marco was working on his little body: giving him massage and vibrations.
I have memories of David in the park, in the water, and in the arms of an educator who read him a story. I remember who painted his room to make it more welcoming and who cleaned it with care and love. Then one special day I met him in the hallway and saw his eyes no longer dull but wide alert, which followed my voice. I was so moved, I couldn’t hold back the tears of emotion. I think of Veronica who has learned to walk in our corridors, of Giancarlo who, with the blink of his eyelashes and his extraordinary smile, communicates to us his every mood. I think of those who are no longer with us and whom we have held close to us until the end, acting as a bridge between heaven and earth.