2021-01-26 PERU

Homes of Light for blind children who see through Marist care

What is a blind person’s “home of light” like, what resonates within them when they hear the word “light” spoken, what does it mean for them to live in light, to share light? When I read the Circular of Brother Ernesto Sánchez, “Homes of Light”, I made the motivation my own and without delay I moved into the profound world of the eleven blind children I accompany at the San José Obrero School in Sullana”, says Brother Bernardino Pascual Juárez, who has been working for seventeen years with blind children in Piura, Peru (Province of Santa María de los Andes). The following is a full transcription of Brother Bernardino’s experience.


After welcoming “with joy the key theme of the Circular, I tried to communicate and interact with the children. I tried to communicate and interact with them” – he explains, referring to his blind students – in the midst of the pandemic, a strange reality which, in a positive way, has helped to “bring us closer while isolating ourselves”, and I did so through shared audios, which allowed me to connect with their world and to try to understand the evocative theme of the Circular through reflection.

Ernesto explains in the first chapters of the Circular how a home of light becomes a reality, as he experienced it. I will limit myself to highlighting some of the words he mentions in his description: dedication, service, care, welcome, correction, acceptance, respect, joy, trust, peace, harmony. (Ch. 1, Homes of Light. Br. Ernesto)

But what is light for my companions? The virtual meetings have confirmed something that I could already sense after seventeen years of sharing presence, companionship, dialogue and life with them.

The light, including clarity, illumination, harmony, warmth, guidance, of their inner home is concentrated in the people they listen to, always feeling their physical presence close to them.

Ernesto in the expressions these blind children use, identifying the light effect, and giving form and life to the concept of their own light.

 “Light means being welcomed, loved, cared for, accepted, corrected, forgiven… that is light for us… your presence, that of the teachers, being there and caring for us, that is light for us, light that illuminates our inner space giving us spirituality and affection”, this is how two adolescent girls from the San José Obrero School in Sullana share their lives, with great conviction.

From the moment they feel accepted, respected, “not pampered or spoiled”, joy, peace, harmony and fraternity emerge; it is clear, we are their light, and our presence is illuminating the dark space inside their eyes without dawns.

“I am sad, my dear brother, because we are not together; I do not listen to you; I will never forget your presence nor that of some of my teachers and classmates; you are my guide; your advice and presence enlighten me as I feel that you are there, next to me”, says another teenager, about to become an ex-pupil of her beloved Colegio San José Obrero; and those who are already ex-pupils, daughters for us: -“with you we learned together, we corrected ourselves together, we enjoyed ourselves, “we saw ourselves”; we saw you in the sympathy, in the appreciation, in the affection, in the availability to attend to us, in those smiles, hidden, but which we felt; you were, and continue to be a clear light in our inner house”. – For us, a person’s voice is their identity. As soon as we hear it, we see in our mind what the person is like,” remarks another blind man, the initial Braille teacher for our students.

It is with deep satisfaction that I express the joy we feel at the San José Obrero School in Sullana to now have five former students of such a beloved Educational Institution, classified by the Peruvian Ministry of Education as a “Valuable School” due to its attention and dedication to Inclusive Education, preferably for blind children; Being blind does not prevent them from promoting themselves in society in professions such as physiotherapy, massage, computing, law, because, in their time, we knew how to envelop them in radiant light; light that they knew how to capture and recreate through the rest of the other senses.

I am grateful to champagnat.org which has welcomed my grain of sand in this building together of Bridges of Humanity with those who are most in need, being less fortunate, as Saint Marcellin Champagnat recalls and proclaims”.

Br. Bernardino Pascual Juárez

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