An Unequal World
By Sr Anne Carbon SSC
Every 10th of October, or the World Mental Health Day, I remember my experience in Peru working with people who are mentally ill. I consider those years a privilege, because I was able to hear, see and hold the sacred stories of individuals and their loved ones coping with their mental health.
Though mental illness is a long-term illness, it does not often get the attention it deserves in health care. The sad reality is that in the developing work, psychiatric services are often sidelined
We are living in a very unjust world! The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that. While people in some countries are already receiving their second booster dose of the vaccine, millions of people in developing countries haven’t even received their first. It has been a time of so much uncertainty. We were ushered unto this situation, into liminal space, against our will.
We can relate to Fr. Richard Rohr’s observation: “We grapple from leaving and entering into a new way of being and we are hesitant to step into an open space of threshold that leads to nowhere.” Many times I found it challenging to accept the invitation to pause and let things be, when the circumstances and the reality around me demanded the opposite.
Lately, I have noticed that the number of beggars in Pakistan has increased. I see the faces of children, young people, women, men and the mentally challenged. When I went to the market to buy fruits and other necessities for our house, I was quickly surrounded by a number of people, begging for food and medicine. I could see the desperation in their eyes, their emaciated looks – clearly, they were in pain and hungry.
I felt ashamed and uncomfortable leaving without sharing with them as I wanted to. In a way I was grateful that I was wearing a face mask so as to hide my shame, frustration, and tears. I know that billions of our brothers and sisters have been pushed to the margins. It will take a concerted effort by organizations, humanitarian groups and individuals to address these disparities. I can only embrace my helplessness, vulnerability and frustration in the light of faith. I trust God to give me the wisdom and the grace to offer love and compassion to those around me who are suffering and in great need.
World Mental Health Day commemorates the strength of those who are suffering from mental health issues and other forms of inequality. Let us live by Mahatma Gandhi’s aphorism: “To live simply so others may simply live.”
Sr. Anne Carbon is from Cagayan de Oro. She is a nurse by profession and has a particular interest in mental health. She worked as a nurse for the Columban Fathers in Manila before she joined the Columban Sisters. She has served on mission in Peru and Pakistan.