Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Least, the Lost, the Left Behind - Leona

“Someday I will come and help you feed the old people in your country.”

They were words that flowed out of a heart deeply touched during a conversation with a young woman from the country of Moldova in Eastern Europe. Surprisingly, they were MY words! The moment they were uttered I knew my life would never be the same.

I had been asked to meet a young woman from Moldova named Leila. She was studying for a year at the University of Washington through the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program. She had expressed interest in understanding the systems of care for elderly persons in the U.S. and so a friend suggested she meet me. Of course, I was delighted to wax eloquent about the abundant options for eldercare and how I had been privileged to work in many of them.

Leila listened to me with interest and then her dancing eyes suddenly clouded with intense sadness. She began to tell me of the old people in Moldova who were starving because they do not have the money to buy food. Her church had offered a hot lunch program where they served soup and bread to some of the most vulnerable elders in their community. The church no longer had the funds to offer this and Leila felt sure that many were suffering as a result.

I have never felt such searing pain in my soul as I did during those moments. I have spent my life developing services and programs to meet the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of older people. The thought of elders starving to death was completely reprehensible.

I knew I needed to do something. And thus began my relationship with a tiny country called Moldova and the hungry grandmas and grandpas who needed food. That meeting with Leila was in February 2006. Little did I know where this conviction toward compassion would lead me. Read more in the days ahead.

1 comment:

Lynnea said...

I love this story where mission work comes out of true relationship and a kindred spirit.