Waddup this week #7: ‘Break our heart for what breaks yours’

Peter Waddup, CEO. The Leprosy Mission Great Britain

Last week my colleague and I were at a hospital in India running fundraising training.

An important part of the training is how to collect case stories, the importance of building a relationship with people we meet, and the need to really hear their story and ensure we honour them through the whole conversation.

As part of the training we then visited a village and met some of the elderly residents, all of whom live with the disabilities resulting from the effects of leprosy following a late diagnosis.

As I called in to one of the houses to check on a team of three members of staff from the hospital, I noticed that as the person affected by leprosy was telling the story of a life of discrimination and rejection, all three had tears rolling down their cheeks.

Later when we left the village and were back in the training centre, they explained that although they had worked in the hospital for many years, their roles were not front-facing. This was the first time that they had ever heard someone affected by leprosy telling a story in their own words and describing the pain they’ve lived with, as time and time again the freedom we all take for granted was snatched away. Thankfully a reprieve finally came when they were offered shelter and friendship by the community workers at this leprosy hospital.

It’s a reminder to all of us, but particularly if we work in the third sector and represent people struggling to overcome injustice in their life, that we need to regularly spend time with them and feel their pain as they share their heartbreaking life stories.

For the three hospital workers, the reality of what they had heard had upset them but in their words given meaning to the work they do every day in the hospital. It had brought meaning and a real understanding of the importance of their work.

They described a spiritual encounter as they listened to the lady speak. It reminded me of the need to turn to God on a regular basis and ask that he breaks our hearts for what breaks his. What we do must never become just a job, our heart needs to be broken again and again to fire up our passion to make a difference.

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