By Father Michael Bassano, MM
SUN contributing writer

Greetings from Tanzania. Each of our own personal journeys is unique yet there is a common thread that unites us as sisters and brothers in this world. Life is a gift from God and we are called to uplift and enhance the lives of others. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are we doing for others?”

Consolata has been living at our home of compassion for 13 years. She came here after spending six years at the Bagando Hospital in the city of Mwanza. Consolata is originally from the town of Bunda.

When she was in her early 20s, Consolata was married and after a few years was expecting  child. One day she decided to climb a tree to pick papaya fruit. She was four months pregnant at the time. Consolata slipped on a branch and fell landing hard in a sitting position on the ground. The impact seriously injured the vertebrae in her back and she was rushed immediately to the hospital. The doctors told Consolata that because of the severe damage to her spine she would be paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of her life.

In April of 1991, she was miraculously able to give birth to her child whom she named Esther. Three years later both Consolata and Esther were baptized at the Bagando Hospital Chapel by Maryknoll Father John Eybel. The  years ahead would not be easy for Consolata. Her husband and parents as well as her seven brothers and sisters all eventually abandoned her at the hospital and she had no place to go. She could not remain at the hospital for the rest of her life and her family wanted nothing more to do with her.

Finally it was Father John Eybel who suggested to Consolata that she go with Esther to our home of compassion, and he brought them here in 1997. Although she can never walk again, Consolata keeps active and busy sewing clothes for herself as well as for the other women here. She is also in charge of our music department. Consolata was given a portable stereo set and she plays music tapes every day for the people keeping everyone (including myself) singing and dancing. Consolata always smiles and looks forward to coming to our Eucharistic celebration in her wheelchair to be with the others in our little church. She is determined to make the most of her life.

In this Easter season, I am reminded of how Jesus entered into the reality of our human condition of suffering and death to bring us hope through his resurrection. Life does not end but is miraculously transformed by the love of God in Jesus Christ.

Like Consolata may we give thanks to God for these miraculous moments that transform our lives and for the people who touch our lives making Easter a reality in our hearts.

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