Alivera, a refugee from Rwanda, could hear for the first time in her right ear in twenty odd years after a surgeon at MetroHealth Hospital in Cleveland removed the scar tissue that was blocking her ear canal.
Twenty years earlier, a machete swung in Rwanda cut her up the side of her head. In Cleveland, that wound was set straight. She could hear! She thanked the medical students and the surgeon. She cried and hugged and kissed the doctor. “I love you,” she said through the Kirnawanda interpreter on the telephone. “God bless you all.”
My job was to drive Alivera home which was on the other side of the city. This was on the day of her first follow-up after her surgery. The day the bandages came off and, miraculously, she could hear.
Driving around that day I was glued to the news on the radio. Donald Trump was being sworn in with the oath of office in D.C.
When I picked up Alivera, she was the happiest I’d seen her. At first, I continued to listen to the news. But once we were on the highway, it dawned on me, “These are the first sound she’s hearing,” and I changed the radio to an oldies station.
And we heard that rock and roll music: “I feel good — da na Na na Na na Na — I knew that I would.”
We danced “I feel nice — da na Na na Na na Na — like sugar and spice.”
We don’t speak the same language, but she knew what “good” meant, and we laughed. And it was good.
“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Eccl 3:1-4)
Dan McCarthy is a graduate of Cleveland State University and works as the Health Care Navigator at Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services. He plans to return to Cleveland State in the fall to start law school.
Cap Corps Volunteers work full time in education, healthcare, and social service placements for one year while living simply in community with other volunteers. The position at Migration and Refugee Services is reationship based where the volunteer journeys closely through clients in the resettlement process. www.capcorpseast.com