Very often, well-being—like resurrection—is an ongoing process rather than a singular event. We move toward it and grow into it gradually over time. Rosalia’s search for well-being has developed in stages, some of which didn’t look much like resurrection. Unlike many immigrants’ journeys, there were no worn shoes and tired blistered feet. She arrived here in a wheelchair.
Run over by a school bus at the school where she worked as secretary, Rosalia lost both legs. A resourceful woman by nature, she learned to get around in a wheelchair—but she also learned that persons with different abilities like hers were seen too often as useless and incapable.
The Sustainable Development Goal for good health and well-being implies not just survival but an opportunity to thrive and contribute to society. It’s not so much the wondrous joy of the disciples on Easter morning as it is their ongoing experience of living the resurrection.
Unlike many immigrants’ journeys, Rosalia's journey included no worn shoes and tired blistered feet. She arrived here in a wheelchair.
In her arduous search for well-being, after fleeing threats of violence in her home country, Rosalia endured weeks of homelessness on the streets of Chicago followed by months in a homeless shelter. The shoes on her prosthetic legs may not have been deeply worn, but another resident at the shelter had threatened to burn them while she slept.
Today Rosalia continues her journey to ever greater well-being as she seeks asylum in this country. She shares a home with other young women on their own journey to well-being as asylum seekers. She spends hours each day studying English so she can one day work and contribute to society here. And despite—or perhaps because of—all she has been through, she gratefully acknowledges the smallest act of kindness shown to her.
Within hours of her arrival at Bethany House, she enchanted the children who delighted in riding on her lap in the wheelchair. Now they use a stroller to wheel each other down the hall, like Rosalia. In the absence of a common language, they share the language of love. Well-being and welcome are related, and often come in small daily increments.
This is the second in a series of six stories created by the Springfield Dominican Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee. Read the whole series here.
The author, Sister Kathlyn Mulcahy, is a Springfield Dominican Sister who ministers at Bethany House, where she accompanies asylum seekers like Rosalia as they await court dates and hearings. Rosalia is a real person. This is her real story. Her name has been changed to protect her privacy.
Photo Credit: wheelchair Rachel Groves / Flickr.com / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/