Suffering In Retreat

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Today we are celebrating Eternal Anchor’s five-year anniversary. I can hardly believe how much has happened in such a short amount of time. So much has changed, but one thing that hasn’t is our passion and determination to address the suffering caused by disability in our community. That’s how everything started. One boy who was suffering and who needed a home was the catalyst. Now, we have the opportunity to walk alongside more than one hundred families impacted by disability each week, sharing with them times of celebration and grief.

This drive to alleviate suffering recently led us to Francisco’s hospital room. Six months ago, Francisco, a teenage boy, was involved in an accident that left most of his body seriously burned. With no friends or family willing to advocate for him, he’s been alone in the hospital the entire time. He’s now emaciated and severely contractured, his wounds still not healed. A nurse who heard about Eternal Anchor called a couple of weeks ago and asked if there was something we could do to help.

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I’ve never seen a burn victim, so when I met Francisco I was shocked. Seeing this young, broken boy alone in an empty room with no support was horrifying. It’s common for people with burns to have impaired mental health due to the trauma of the event and pain of the healing process. That, in addition to being abandoned and isolated for so long, has left Francisco with mental health challenges. However, while I was visiting last night, he had a moment of lucidity. Sobbing, he begged me for help. He told me how much pain he’s in, that he doesn’t want to be alone anymore, and that he wants to walk again. I was able to tell him that we are doing everything we can to help and that he’s no longer alone. He now has a community of people who care about him and who are fighting for his care.

We’re blessed to have a PT on staff who worked at the burn unit of Shriners Children’s Hospital. With her help, we’ve been able to work with the hospital to apply for a medical visa to get him transferred to the U.S. so he can actually recover. He’s already been approved and we are now finalizing the details for the transfer.

I can honestly say that without Eternal Anchor’s intervention, this boy would have died alone. Roberto Goizueta writes, “Suffering shared is suffering already in retreat.” We can’t always take away the suffering of those around us, but the staff of Eternal Anchor are committed to entering into a loving solidarity with people who are hurting and alone. In the past five years, it has been an honor to stand in solidarity and share in the suffering of people like Francisco. We’re so grateful for the love and support of our partners who help us spread hope in situations that seem hopeless. We’re so grateful for the opportunity to reflect God’s love to Francisco and to alleviate his suffering.

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