A couple of months ago, the committee of the “Rise and Walk” Association—a ministry for persons with disabilities—met by conference call one evening. It was already 9:30 pm, and we had only one point in the agenda: to make the most of International Women’s Day the following March 8 as an opportunity to offer flowers and a bookmark with a poem to ladies in Bucharest, the capital city of Romania.
Florin Dobromir, coordinator of the Bucharest chapter, remembered that some time ago, I had written a book called Sărut-mâna, doamnă, whose approximate translation from Romanian is “I kiss your hand, dear lady.” In Romania, it is a specific expression used as a sign of deep respect for women. So, we decided to name our project “Sărut-mâna, doamnă,” as we planned to distribute tulips among the ladies. We chose to carry out our project at the University Plaza, the very place where the revolution against communism started in 1989.
Persons with Disabilities Serving Others
Our gesture was somehow revolutionary too, as our initiative was carried out by people with disabilities. From a logical point of view, they are the ones who are supposed to receive flowers as a gift because of their fight against physical limitations and the resiliency lessons they offer us every day.
Around 35 persons with disabilities, either in wheelchairs or blind, and additional volunteers wearing the association vests, arrived at University Plaza at 3:30 pm, as passers-by filled the adjacent sidewalks. I was impressed by the joy of the persons with disabilities and by their enthusiasm to offer a smile to the ladies on their special day. Hope TV Romania, the Adventist television network in the country, recorded the event. Those who were given flowers were amazed to receive a gift from persons with physical problems, who nevertheless seemed so happy.
I believe that there was never a project like this in Bucharest, in which persons with disabilities served others. The National Romanian Radio Station interviewed me, asking me to provide a rationale for the project. I told them that in spite of their physical limitations, these people enjoy participating in social events to bless others.
“Giving flowers and bookmarks makes me feel as if I had a light in my heart,” said a blind man involved in the project. “It is something I try to offer with each flower I give away.” “For me, giving away flowers implies sharing part of my happiness,” said Stefania, a member of the association who is bound to a wheelchair. When offering a flower to a lady, Aurel Burcea, the vice-president of the association, was asked, “What should I offer you?” “A smile is enough,” he replied.
A Lesson Learned
A woman interviewed by Hope TV Romania said that the gesture of that group of people with disabilities is something she will never forget. “It is us who should be doing this, not them,” she said. When receiving a flower and a bookmark, another lady said that she wanted to pay for it to the person who gave it to her. She could not believe that the person who gave her a flower refused any payment. “I just expect you to enjoy it,” she said the person told her. Another elderly lady commented on this gesture by saying that this show of selfless love and kindness gives her hope. “I have learned a lesson today!” she said.
Persons with disabilities enjoyed interacting with people, and their smiles brought more smiles on the ladies, who felt truly kissed in their hands and sincerely loved on their special day.