That’s what we gathered last night to hear.
That’s why we sat huddled around a computer for hours.
There were four of us; all different ages, different backgrounds, different beliefs. Two women; both of them mothers, one Canadian, one Filipina. Two young men; neither of them fathers, one German, one Filipino. It was a mix of new friends and old in a quiet room at the top of the stairs and for three hours, where we had been and where we were going did not matter.
We had joined together for a short time in the interest of translating the life story of one of the young men in STRENGTH. From Tagalog to English we would carefully play the interview and write out what he had said. A simple process one would think but not for us, not this time.
There were moments that we would have to stop, not because we couldn’t understand but because the understanding was just too painful.
At times our Filipina friend would stutter upon hearing the next sentence, bow her head and utter a prayer, a plea or perhaps a curse before she would raise her chin and bravely repeat what the boy had said. Shortly thereafter my pen would stop, making sure first to diligently record her translation I would then pause, take a deep breath and after reflecting give them a nod to go on.
That is how it began, and that is how it carried on until nearing the end the light and the laughter came back into our world. He spoke of hope and of faith. He shared with us a glimpse into an inner joy and peace that many fight a lifetime to attain. He is only in his early 20’s and he has endured pain and loss beyond imaging; yet there is the gentleness of his eyes and the brightness of his smile lays the miracle that is his life.
He never gave up, never gave in but what he did do was give back out of gratitude for the grace that allowed him to survive.
It was after the last word was spoken that the true impact of what we were doing hit home. When my Filipina friend turned to me and in complete amazement and with a trembling voice shared with us her thoughts we realized neither can we give up or give in. She spoke for all of us I think when she pointed out how powerful this story could be, how beautiful it was to see that true faith and hope can overcome even the most tormented of souls. She spoke of the inspiration it could be to others, of the difference it could make in the lives of those who may for a time be lost in the dark.
I could only answer that this was why we were so determined to finish what we started.
You see his story is only one of thousands, possibly millions the world over; but if telling his story can stop these things from happening to other innocent children then telling his story is what we must and will do.
His story bravely told combined with many others changed my life.
His story selflessly told by him so we may share it with the world may just change yours.