I am an empathetic person, my eyes tear at the pain of others, and at that moment, I will even take off my shoes and give them to you if shoes are your greatest need. I am, however, ashamed to say that many times, this empathy is short-lived, forgotten, once I move past the heart-rending situation.
People like Susan Shimba put me to shame and prod me to question exactly what tangible contribution I have made on earth and what impactful way I have touched someone’s life since I was born 20-something years ago. I insist that I am 20-something …
Anyway, you must be wondering who Susan is. Well, her story was published in the Daily Nation on Friday, May 10, 2019. She is 54, a mother of three, two of them adopted. One of the adopted boys has cerebral palsy, a disorder characterised by poor coordination and impaired movement.
Susan adopted her son, Solomon, when he was eight months old, a child who would be dependent for the rest of his life.
She adopted him anyway, even when those close to her wondered what was wrong with her.
“Did she understand what she was signing up for by adopting a child with special needs?”, they wondered. “Why did she want to adopt anyway when she had a child of her own?” She would give them the same answer: “If I don’t, who will?”
That was 10 years ago. Solomon has made remarkable improvement since, but he will be dependent for the rest of his life.
Susan would have it no other way, however, even though taking care of a special-needs child is not only a full time job, but also very expensive.
A couple of years ago, she was forced to resign from her job to take care of Solomon since house-helps would get overwhelmed by his needs and leave almost as soon as they came.
She now bakes to take care of her family. Her business is called Daphne’s Delights. The least you and I can do is order a cake from this amazing woman who has given a loving home to a boy who might have gone on to spend all his life in a children’s home, never to know the joy of a smaller family.
Many of us visit children’s homes once a year during Christmas season when we allow our Christian selves to do something for the less fortunate.
Susan went way beyond this and gave not one, but two children a home.
Her moving story has goaded me to take an introspective look at myself, to ask myself a couple of hard questions which will require me to give honest answers if I am to become a better person.
I am one of those people that believe we were put on Earth for a reason, that each of us has a purpose to fulfil. Susan’s story has only reinforced this belief in me.
I may not adopt a child, but there must be something I can do that will have a lasting impact on at least one person.
The writer is the Editor, Society and Magazines, Daily Nation. [email protected]