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Kifaya massages the arms of her child who attends the JRS Daycare in Maban, where mothers of disabled children come to learn about how to care for their children and interact with other mothers of disabled children. (Rashidah McCoy/Jesuit Refugee Service)

1 April 2018  — Today we celebrate Easter and remind ourselves that this is a time of redemption, forgiveness, and eternal hope. On this day, I am reminded of two women I met in South Sudan - Joy and Kifaya. 

Joy is the mother of a son who has extremely weak knees and was unable to walk for two years. Before attending the JRS Daycare in Maban, South Sudan he would scoot around on the ground to get from one place to another. Kifaya’s daughter has cerebral palsy and was not able to hold items in her hands or feed herself. The mothers were not knowledgeable of how to take care of their child’s needs and held guilt for their children’s inability to walk or interact with others. The ladies assumed their lack of knowledge was hindering them. 

Jesuit Refugee Service in Maban, South Sudan works with Joy, Kifaya, and families like theirs raising children with disabilities in an already challenging environment. JRS helps to teach them how to properly care for them, giving them tools to help the children succeed, and providing them with the psychosocial support to not take their child’s condition as a fault of their own. 

Prior to JRS’s assistance, Joy used only warm water to soothe her son’s limbs and Kifaya provided the basic needs for her daughter, simply feeding and clothing her. They now understand the importance of massaging the children’s limbs and doing physical therapy exercises to improve blood circulation and mobility. Over the course of time, Joy’s son has learned to walk with little to no assistance and Kifaya’s daughter can now feed herself. 

The proud mothers shared the stories of their children’s progress with me and what they have learned with smiles. Learning how to properly tend to their disabilities for self-sufficiency is important to the mothers, but also finding salvation from blaming their selves played a role in their growth. The training the women received from JRS has empowered them to spread the knowledge about disabilities to the community. The JRS Daycare has served as a place of redemption for Joy and Kifaya as their families continues to love and accept the children for their differences. 

As Pope Francis stated in his 2017 morning Easter Mass, “It is the mystery of the cornerstone that was discarded, but has become the foundation of our existence," he said. And those who follow Jesus, "we pebbles," find meaning even in the midst of suffering because of sure hope in the resurrection.” May these ladies and others displaced around the world find redemption and hope on this Easter Sunday. 

Rashidah McCoy is the Communications Coordinator for Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.

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