Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Sunrise in Every Soul

For as long as I can remember, I think that I have known a few truths about the world, and the only people I can thank for this knowledge is my parents. When my sisters and I were little, we were fortunate enough that our Amma and Baba took us on adventures around the world, and these experiences in countries other than my own taught me more than I realized at the time. I had seen the reality of most of the world on trips to Pakistan ever since I was a few months old, and I had also seen the beauty of the world.

During the months leading up to our trip and our meetings, we learned about the realities we would see: the people we were preparing to serve lived lives much different than our own. As the type of human whose heart bent when she saw even a too skinny dog walking around outside the clinic in San Lucas, I knew this would be immensely difficult for me to see and experience in a more direct way than ever before. For this reason, I knew that I would have to seek the beauty of the world during my time in Guatemala.

Every morning since we landed in Guatemala City, I would wake up earlier than I should have. Partly because of the roosters that would would signal a too-early start to the day at 3 am but mostly to see the sunrise. The first day in San Lucas, I realized only after the world was suddenly full of light that I was facing the wrong direction and missed it. The next morning, I tried again but the mountains were blocking my view. On Wednesday, I woke up my lovely roommate Xye so we could find the sunrise together but our view was less than ideal. The same dilemma was the case on Thursday and Friday, but I did not want to give up.

This morning in Antigua, I woke up early again with Xye determined to finally accomplish my goal with my last chance. As we climbed onto the roof of the hotel to find the best view possible, we realized that the only thing we would see would be the light appearing behind a fluffy and almost impenetrable layer of clouds. As I began to feel a little disappointed that I still had not seen a Guatemalan sunrise in its beautiful entirety, I understood that this realization was completely wrong.

I saw the sunrise every day in our clinic in San Lucas playing futbol with the kids who  filled my heart with hope: they smiled no matter what words I strung together to say a sentence in Spanish and covered me with stickers of princess from head to toe. Though they did not have much, they were joyful and hopeful.

I saw the sunrise working in the glasses room in Chapernas: the light that illuminated each face after someone put on glasses and could finally see the world.

I saw the sunrise in every single soul I encountered that belongs to Guatemala.

I saw the sunrise through the amazing Dr. Lauri and amazing Dr. Richard, who showed me what selflessness looks like and taught me the most important thing about medicine: the people. And through Dr. Eric and his never-waning excitement and happiness. I saw the sunrise through Nurse Stephanie, who amazed me in more ways than I can could ever count and stopped to teach me the importance of believing in myself and who I am in the middle of a chaotic triage. Through Stephanie Renny, who handled every obstacle with grace and always made sure that we were all getting enough water. Through Roland, who instilled a desire to stay hopeful and to aim to make a difference with what I do. Through Diana and Mishell who never stopped smiling and talked to me about the importance of hope. And through Rabbi Abie, who allowed us to experience a Shabbat dinner together. My fellow students gave me the sunrise every day as we worked together and every evening during our group reflections, teaching me through their eyes.

If one of my goals of this trip was to see the sunrise, I think I saw it more times than I could have hoped. Because I learned that no matter how much darkness the world may see, the sun will always rise and fill it with light and hope.

Zenab Saeed

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