We found a family who share with us.
Ruth McKee is a Stay Member based in Peru, she serves at Shalom, a school which helps children with additional needs.
Many of our children with additional needs have experienced rejection from others and not been made to feel welcomed in society or even in their extended family circle. For us in Shalom to give them respect and love is invaluable, additional to the education and therapy that is provided. This welcome and acceptance allows them to thrive. It also provides hope for the family and points them to the hope we all have in Christ.
A Shalom mum said “Before Shalom I had tried to take my son to other special needs schools or centres but because of the severity of his condition they didn’t give him a place. In Shalom we found a welcome, we found a family who share with us, showed and taught us about God’s love and accepted us for who we were.”
I enjoy visiting the children and their families in their homes. Many of the children can’t communicate verbally, but once they see me and know that someone is visiting them, their big smile gives me the biggest welcome.
Food is a big part of culture here in Peru; it is the conversation topic rather than the weather. If you want someone to feel really welcomed, you give them food when they come to your house. I have been offered a range of foods and dishes during the visits and especially when I know some of the families don’t have much, it is very humbling.
“The most precious potatoes I have ever eaten.”
I live in a large city, and some of the families we support have migrated from the country to the city. Sometimes they take the long journeys to go back to the country to help with the sowing or the harvesting of crops. On a recent home visit, the mum had just returned from the potato harvest. She shared about how it had been a tough one as the climate was much colder this year and there had been snow.
Before I left her house, she gave me a bag of potatoes. I was awestruck and felt her love for me – they were the most precious potatoes I have ever eaten. I think that you feel most welcomed when the person you are with just opens up and shares and you have the honour of being a listening ear.
Recently, I came back to Peru after being in Northern Ireland. Whilst I had been away one of the Shalom mum’s sisters had tragically died. I went to visit and within a few minutes she was sharing through tears all that she had been going through; her emotions, her questions. Although it was difficult to hear, I felt privileged that she had let me into not just her house but into her personal story.
What I would love to see more of here, in Peru and across the world, is that those who have disabilities are welcomed and included in their families, in their society and into the Christian family.