Chasing Away “Discapacidad”

By Riana Hardin, volunteer with the Community-Based Rehabilitation Program for children with disabilities in San Martín, Peru

A visit to one of the students who requires more one on one rehabilitation services
A visit to one of the students who requires more one on one rehabilitation services

If there is one thing that I have come to struggle with since coming to Peru and working with Paz y Esperanza is the word discapacidad. Indeed, I realize that the word cannot help but be what it is, but I cringe at the contamination that a person is somehow lesser of a human because of a difference that they had no control over. After having spent a large chunk of last semester, monitoring disability issues in India, I am well aware of the second class status “disability” carries in most of the world. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to cry out an ocean of tears for the careless discard of untapped potential and ability to contribute and participate in the human experience.

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More than a New Profile Pic

By Ryan Juskus, volunteer in San Martín in 2004


There is a joke about a short-term humanitarian volunteer who visited an East African country to spend time serving kids in an orphanage.  While there, he took lots of selfies with some of the orphans.  When he returned home, he described the experience as “transformative,” so much so that he used one of those photos as his facebook profile picture for a whole two weeks!

The joke, of course, is that if such an encounter were so transformative, then it would have led to a lifestyle and vocational commitment to identify and combat the root causes of human suffering and injustice in our world today.  And such a commitment would cause him to ask the hard questions about his own country, privilege, and complicity in unjust systems that create or maintain broken relationships.  In other words, transformation would have included more than a transformed facebook profile.  It would have included a transformed lifestyle and spiritual life.

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