by: Tess Aguilar
I find it a contradiction that human suffering brings out the best in people. Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace prize winner and Holocaust survivor said, “Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope too can be given to one only by other human beings. ” MLAC Psychological Services led by Dr. Ma. Lourdes A. Carandang and her team of psychologists bask in such a contradiction. What we do is not easy, but it is necessary.
Along the path of our mission, we found allies who, like us, carry the same vision. This summer of May, our team members Richie Parr and Tessibeth Cordova spearheaded a project with our sponsors TIAXA International and Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) in doing trauma counseling for families and children who survived typhoon Yolanda and now are relocated in Pampanga. It was a series of therapeutic interventions through the expressive arts. During the interventions, therapy became the language of their soul. Every artwork, every movement, and every story, remembered the experience of devastation.
Every therapeutic work unearths gems from the “rubble”. Let me share with you what I have found.
I sat in awe and admiration listening to a group of men and women about the impact of typhoon Yolanda. They described the devastation as unimaginable but also a tragedy that they conquered. My heart broke into so many pieces listening to their stories. Like them, I didn’t know how to put the pieces back together. Every story created a unique kind of pain. Yet, it was in sharing these stories and being together that we were able to piece our broken hearts.
All stories touched me and changed me in many ways. But there is one story, which I want to mention most especially. The story came from Mercy ( not her real name) . At the aftermath of Yolanda, she and her family went so hungry. There was no food, only desolation. With her indomitable spirit she walked miles with her young niece to look for food. It took them a day to find enough loot. As they headed back home, what they saw were corpses and the lingering stench of death. In its midst, they also met hungry people needing food. Without hesitation, the food she intended for her family, she shared with them. They went home with enough to give to her family.
I wanted to weep in the middle of therapy for her compassion was so deep and priceless. I wanted to weep because her heart was huge enough to accommodate not just her hungry family, but those who did not have anything to eat. If I have wept, my tears could not have conveyed the admiration I had for Mercy. Her compassion bears no name because for me it was beyond words. My tears also meant to say that such compassion carries it’s own magnitude that the universe is sure to know that hope is real.
My sense of awe put me in a place of humility. It is only with genuine goodness and deep love that you know you have found true compassion.