While in Kolkata, I had the opportunity to work with children at the Daya Dan house during our time. From the moment I entered the house, I could feel a deep sense of joy. Each person I encountered was happy to be working in Daya Dan with these children who had been left on the street because of disabilities they had. Meeting Sister Sophia, the sister who is in charge, was great, and you could feel the joy just radiate from her being. She was the mastermind behind everything in this place, and everyone knew it. The amount of love that poured out of this woman to this house was immense, and without it, the house wouldn’t be the same.  She assigned each one of us to an individual child when we first arrived and that is where I met Bernard.

Bernard is a young man who is sixteen years old with severe physical disabilities, he couldn’t hold his head up on his own, was unable to walk, and wasn’t able to hold anything in his hands. The most challenging disability Bernard has is that he is unable to speak. I was tasked with communicating with a child who couldn’t speak to me in English let alone in Bengali. While he was limited in his body, his joy was infinite. Each moment I would spend with him he smiled at me, it’s as if he saw something in me that I wasn’t aware of. Along with that joy, I came to learn that Bernard was rather intelligent. We would spend hours going through math problems, after every problem we would finish he looked at me with a smile and spoke the only word he knew, “more”. To that I would respond “Always more Bernard!” and we would continue to work through these equations. In my mind I was teaching him, but in reality he was teaching me about myself.

Bernard helped me to see what fatherhood is like, walking along with a child in many ways and comforting them in hard times. On my last day at Daya Dan this week, I went up to greet Bernard and noticed that something was different. His smile wasn’t as radiant as the previous days, yet he still smiled. Bernard had a very high fever and was only able to rest in bed for the day. I got math flash cards to work with him, but within minutes he was sound asleep. I sat by his side for the rest of the day, taking care of him by getting him water whenever he needed it and cleaning up the soup that he couldn’t keep in his stomach. Sitting by his bed allowed me to see that this was exactly what I was supposed to be doing that day: taking care of a sick child and praying by his side while he slept. The joy that radiated from Bernard everyday allowed me to grow in paternal love that I was able to give back to him in his sickness.


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