We grabbed ice-cream and sat in a circle on King George Square. The wind was blowing and it was a cool 16 degrees or 61F for the Americans. These 2 girls sitting across me, speaking of their struggles and their past experiences. The pain and shame they are going through, the intimidating police reports they have to make. One's confronting her demon of being sexually assaulted by a trusted neighbour, and the other, a physical abuse by his stepdad.
As I listen to their stories and as they share with each other their experiences, I felt like the odd one out, but that's a good thing. A cold gust of wind hits my face and all that I could think of is the large amount of respect, admiration and love I have for these two girls. I cannot understand what they're going through but them sharing their stories and experiences, as I quietly witness and listen, gives me a sense of hope and humanity, a sense of pride and gratefulness.
I've known them for a year, and we met at an event organised by an organisation that we're all volunteering for. As we ended the night and before we parted ways, I went and gave them both each a tight hug and as I walked towards the bus stop at the end of the long hallway, I think about all the people in the world that's suffering in silence and pain, feeling alone and lonely because of their past. I count myself lucky.
I came home to a Facebook message from a name I find familiar. I clicked on his profile and its D, and the message read, "Hi Aaron, are you coming to BNO this week? Hope to see you there."
I beamed until I almost cried. D was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and finds it challenging to socialise. He comes to an event, BNO, organised by one of my best friends where I try to attend and help around when I can. BNO is a music/dance social event for all young people, and it consists of an almost equal mixture of children with mental and physical disabilities and those without dis/abilities. The idea is to create an event that removes all the barriers for everyone to participate equally regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, dis/abilities and religion. I met D about 7 months ago, and three months later, when I returned to the event, he remembered my name!
When the event is on, he usually hides behind a tree outside the hall. He tries really hard to say hi to people, and to mix around, albeit for only a few seconds every time. His speech impairment makes him self-conscious, and his ASD makes him protective of his personal space, but him making a contact although through Facebook makes me beam like a kid in a candy store. I wrote him a long reply, promising him that I'll be there, and when I got there, he was as usual, behind the tree. I asked permission to come to give him a hug, he took 5 seconds to say yes. We exchanged hug, a few words and then he looked away, not once did he gave me eye-contact, but I know that's a great achievement.
Sometimes, we travel through out lives admiring the big heroes who gets all the name, but we forget these heroic acts in every individual's lives who are trying their best to fight their struggles and the status quo. We forget that its these courageous acts that makes this world goes round, and what makes life so special. And I send my love, admiration and respect to you, for whatever that you're fighting for and against at the moment. Know that these fights, although difficult, is for a better, brighter future and that I am thinking of you and wishing you well.