Every two years we give our ladies the opportunity to have full health check-ups done. From the check-ups, we have found many health issues our ladies would have otherwise not known about until they were horribly sick.

For Chobi, this is true. Within this last year she had a check-up and some health issues surfaced. At first, she felt like the running around for the check-ups and treatment was more trouble than it was worth, but she tells a different story now. She is receiving excellent treatment.

That treatment requires her to be in the hospital for extended lengths of time. The first time another staff member and I went out to see her, she beamed ear-to-ear that we had come to see her. As odd as it seems, she looked so good and so joyful. Chobi is a talker, and she told us many stories as well as asking how life at Sari Bari was going: she missed everyone so desperately.

I have been back several times now to see her, and every time I go, I walk away with the same thought, she is so joyful. Usually a hospital is a place of sadness, but for Chobi, she is receiving great care and her daughter is helping her. Her smile and laugh are absolutely contagious.

Last week Sarah and I went to visit her. As we sat with her, she told us about the hospital. She said it was nice but that they do not let her shower. They give her a little bit of water to rinse off with but not to shower fully. One cultural tidbit to know is that most people do not use toilet paper here. When one goes to the bathroom, there is a bucket of water and scooper to rinse with after using the toilet. This is life here: to some westerners, it is a bit hard to fathom.

As she is telling us that they do not give enough water to shower with, she then told us, quite aghast, that even for using the toilet “they don’t give water! Instead, they give paper!” By this point Chobi is beginning to laugh. “What am I supposed to do with paper? I asked the sister, and she said it is strong enough, but they don’t even give water!“ Now Chobi is laughing so hard she’s crying, and Sarah and I are beginning to laugh right along with her. Chobi’s laughter is out of the absurdity of her situation and even out of a little embarrassment . . . what kind of a place would not give water to use for the toilet? Actually, both Sarah and I were rather surprised, too, because toilet paper is a rare commodity in this country. It was quite odd that they would give toilet paper instead of water. Together, the three of us laughed. Sarah and I laughed at the situation as a whole—what on earth would Chobi think if she knew that was how we went to the bathroom? Chobi pulled out a bit of the toilet paper that the nurse had given her to show us and finally said, “So I wet the paper before going to the bathroom.”

And the laughter continued.

From the point that we entered the hospital ward until the time we left, we smiled because of Chobi’s joy. How is that possible in the midst of disease and treatment? My only thought is love. It is because of the love she receives and can now give that love away. Just another Hero in our midst…

Reflection by Sheila Yoder (Sari Bari Nurse, Friend and sister)