#throwback Jul 30, 2015 @ 22:37
It took about 10 months for my hair to completely fall away. In the mean time, with not much to lose, I decided to try ‘alternative treatment’. The best was a homeopath I’d found that treated a friend’s son, who had severe Cerebral Palsy. I learnt a lot about my body, about what effects it, about how much it could take. Treatment took a long time, which I guess is whats frustrating about alternative treatments. We are so used to the instant fix.
The friends with the ‘little man with CP’, went to the same church as I did. She struggled a lot with the whole religious notion that if they just believed a bit harder, had faith a bit harder, prayed a bit harder… then their son would come right. Oh and the – what sin did they commit to have a child born in that condition.
As my hair was starting to grow back, this family decided to go to Samoa to see Benny Hinn…the Christian healer dude. And they decided to take me along with them…if I wanted to go. So I did.
Our little man with CP didn’t regain his sight, or walk, or talk after the Benny Hinn healing concert thingy…but we, I learnt something else, that’s been invaluable, and started me on a route that I guess I was always destined for. A route that eventually steered me away from the church and ethnocentric religion…religion actually. And put me on the journey that I’m still on really.
In Samoan culture, those that are born with what western culture labels as a ‘disability’, like our little man with CP…they aren’t considered disabled as such. It was hard to understand what they were trying to tell us as we didn’t speak the language…but actions always speak louder, way louder than wordy explanations. So let me explain what they did…
When we arrived in Samoa, they, the people…those at the airport, the hotel…stared at us. We presumed, as you do, that they were judging us…
The following day in town, they stared some more. A lot actually. And unashamedly. We went into the bank and they all moved aside, waved and gestured at us to lean against the wall. It was cooler there…the bank had air conditioning.
Then we went to McDonald’s and they stared again, and did the same thing, gesturing at the wall…they gave us ice cream. Ladies came with a fan and started fanning our little man with CP. Then his mother, she was pregnant.
Then we went to stay at another residence, not the motel. She fed us. Gave us her bed, rooms…anything we needed. Our little man with CP was fanned and given a bed that would accommodate his needs…and keep him cool.
The following night we went to Benny Hinn. They stared. And then as we were walking in, with the hundreds of locals who had come from all over Samoa to see this man…they moved aside. As we got to our seats, the row of people in front of us, moved all the chairs so we could get the push chair through. Then an older lady put her blanket on the ground and waved for everyone else to move out-of-the-way. Then she took our little man with CP, out of his pushchair car seat thing, and laid him on the blanket and sat down on the ground next to him and fanned him with her large fan. Then another older lady did the same. They did that the entire concert thingy. Taking turns to fan him, make him comfortable, making sure he wasn’t hot.
They treated our little man with CP, like an absolute prince…king really. And that treatment continued right throughout the rest of our visit to Samoa. I’d never seen or experienced anything quite like it before. Maori culture is similar, hospitality wise…but this was a whole new level.
What I learnt was that they didn’t see a ‘disability’ as a disability. They saw our little man with CP as someone extremely special…like we did, but different. It wasn’t a forced or sympathetic admiration of him…but a reverence of the gift that he was. The lady we stayed with explained it the best she could to us. She didn’t understand how ‘we’ or the culture we came from, couldn’t see it any other way than how they did. How right she was.
And this type of ‘treatment’ or view of those that are ‘different’ didn’t just extend to those with ‘disabilities’. Their ‘transgender’ persons are viewed exactly the same way. They are completely integrated within their culture and revered for their way of being. They aren’t gawked at, or tsked…they don’t even turn a head. Is was a beautiful thing to watch.
The only critical thing they had to say to me…was that I was to skinny lol. In their culture, the more voluptuous you are the better. It means that you have enough food and are wealthy…sort of :) They didn’t even notice the remnants of my bald patches. It was the first time in about a year and a half that I hadn’t worn a hat or scarf. It was great.
When we came back to our country…the people in the airport, they stared at us. Then looked away real quick.
Back home, I decided we needed to move out-of-town and to the country. My oldest girl was getting angry…with everything. She had started jumping out the window at night and would be gone for days. I’d spend days trying to find her and when I did, there’d be 2 or 3 days worth of trying to get her to talk and unravel. She was angry…with me…her father…with moving…with life. So part of the move was to keep her from taking off. It worked.
I started working part-time as a cleaner and voluntary work for an organisation that did rehabilitation and reintegration of incarcerated peeps. New experience, being on the other side of the criminal mentality.
It opened up a new avenue for me though…one which I enjoyed and wanted to pursue further.
I also realised I needed to look at my own culture. Deeper. Further. And not the one that was put on display for visiting nations…the old one…pre colonisation…although I didn’t really understand what that was then…I just knew I needed to find my version of it, for myself.