“For it is in giving that we receive”
Pray for peace - St Francis of Assisi
It was my second experience of LITTLE EDEN as a volunteer. I found out about the organisation when I was very young, as the late founder of LITTLE EDEN, Domitilla, was the first cousin of my grandparents, with whom she grew up in Albenza, Italy.
When I came there for the first time seven years ago, I spent most of my time at Elvira Rota Village, Bapsfontein, I did not know what it meant dealing with people with profound intellectual disabilities. The first day at the village I believed I was not able to help them, as I did not know how to interact with them without showing that I was sorry for their condition. Day by day, however, everything just came natural; I was so touched and infected by their enthusiasm towards the smallest gesture and their positivity towards the difficulties of every day that my way of seeing life changed and I became more aware of other people’s needs.
The second time I arrived at LITTLE EDEN thinking that some of the residents would have not been able to remember me…but with great surprise I was wrong. It has been such a wonderful emotion attending again the Mass at the Elvira Rota Village and seeing all these angels coming towards me for an unforgettable hug. Yes, because nothing is comparable to one of their tight hugs or their smiles, which makes you understand that what really matters in our lives is something that you cannot achieve with money but with your time. The most precious gift you can offer to someone is, indeed, your time, but a smile can connect you with people in a special way.
I love smiling, because I do believe that it is a universal language understood by everyone. A smile can change and make one’s day, can dry tears and warm up hearts, can make someone feel blessed and loved. This is what you feel when you see the smiles of LITTLE EDEN’s Angels. This is what happened to me when I first walked inside the green wing of Domitilla and Danny’s Home and I saw the smile of Lebogang, a 4-year-old resident with cerebral palsy, who was admitted at LITTLE EDEN a year ago. Seeing her smiling at me with those bright eyes, full of joy and life, it just fills my heart. When she smiles me back, I feel our souls connected and this proves myself that what St Francis wrote it is right: it is in giving that you receive.
Elena Fiorino with Lebogang