A man passing a farmer, who was minding a field of 20 white sheep and 20 black sheep stopped to talk. After they exchanged greetings the rambler asked the farmer ‘which of the sheep eat the most grass every day?’ ‘The black sheep or the white sheep’, replied the farmer. ‘Mmmm, the white’ said the man. ‘The white sheep eat 10lbs of grass everyday’ said the farmer, ‘Oh, said the man, and what about the black one’s?’ he asked. ‘They eat 10lbs of grass as well’ said the farmer.
‘Well, how much wool do you get from a sheep?’ asked the rambler. ‘Which ones, the black sheep or the white sheep’ replied the farmer. ‘I don’t know, the black ones…’, said the rambler. ‘The black sheep produces about 2 bags of wool each year’, replied the farmer. ‘What about the other ones, the white sheep, what do they produce?’ asked the ever intrigued rambler. ‘Oh. They produce about 2 bags of wool each year too’, answered the farmer.
The rambler’s inquisitiveness got the better of him and he asked the farmer, ‘ why, when I ask a question do you ask if it’s the black sheep or white sheep and then go on to give the same answer for each?. ‘That’s easy’ said the farmer, ‘the black sheep are mine’. ‘And what about the others’ said the rambler hoping to get to the bottom of this, ’They’re mine too’ said the farmer!.
This is a story from Anthony De Mello and demonstrates how we divide when no division is needed at all. This week, I had the occasion to visit Kalinglinga Hospice (Our Lady’s Hospice) and it makes me recall the words of Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement that "You matter because you are you, and you matter to the last moment of your life’. For any of us who have spent any time in a hospice this attitude of inclusiveness, hope and life is palpable.
The Hospice at Kalinglinga, built in 1993 and run by the FMDM sisters, is a testament to ground breaking palliative care. But it is also much more than this. The patients that come to the hospice are generally suffering (and I don’t use this word lightly) from HIV / AIDS and are at various stages of the illness. There are three main sections to the hospice: an out-patient facility for monitoring and the distribution of ARV’s (Anti Retro Virals), the in-patient facility which serves as a short stay facility for those needing some intensive care and as an end of life facility and a training centre incorporating a Physio therapy clinic.
The buildings are welcoming, smiles abound and people are happy to see you. In a place like this people are united either by the effect disease has on their lives or in an attempt to combat this disease. There is no difference here, people are just people who need care, support and help. People are welcomed in the spirit of Dame Cicely and valued as individuals, with their own stories, fears, hopes, sadness and joys, all because they matter, just because they are who they are.
My visit was an impromptu one so I didn’t have my camera so I have attached a link to their website.
Hospice care in Zambia in under increasing threat of closure, please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. They do a value and valiant job with little support. One other hospice very close to where I stay has closed this year because funding has been cut off which in turn cuts very sick people off from either residential or home care. I visited there once and to see the wards empty and beds lying idle was both eery and moving because it meant that people where dying in the compounds in very poor conditions.