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Thursday, August 26, 2010

I met Harriet Tubman.

She was not Mother Theresa  or J.F. K nor was she Martin Luther King. But I think she was no less. She could be the person you pass on the street every day but fail to see behind their faces.

I saw her in my clinic years ago when I use to have clinics. She was a frail 64 year old African American lady. I saw every month or so for arthritis related problems. She worked as a janitor at a local Wal-Mart. There was nothing extraordinary about her. She was a quiet person, kept to  herself and never complained much about anything. Then I didn’t see her for almost a year.  One day she just walked in to our office with her daughter. She appeared to be much weaker and in poor health. Her symptoms of arthritis were worst and she was having difficulty with walking. 

I recommended a rheumatology evaluation. As she was about to leave her daughter asked me to tell her mom not to work so much. I concurred and I advised her to take it slow. Her daughter said that she is not talking about her regular job but what she does after that. Apparently she has been working 5 days a week for the past thirty four years at different shelters. She volunteered her time, worked with homeless people and talked to them and gave them hope. Volunteering your time few hours a week or a month is different but volunteering your life is something else.

It has been years since I last saw her. She told me later the reason why she does what she does is when she was a child she spent some time with her parents in shelters. Her father died in a shelter during her teen years, after that she was taken by her Aunt. She decided at that time to help homeless people…… and she did.

When I think back she reminds me of Harriet Tubman (1820-1913), an African American who spent all her life working to abolish slavery. She was a slave by birth, after she got her freedom she performed menial jobs half the year to earn enough money so that she could free her fellow humans from slavery. She used safe houses to smuggle slaves to freedom. She made 19 visits and freed around 300 slaves. They used to call her “Mosses”.

I think the lady in my office was Mosses of our times, invisible Mosses.

About the picture: This is in front of Tampa Museum.


bilalahmed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bilalahmed said...

"Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grandchildren are once more slaves." DHLawrence, Classical American Literature, 1923


Anonymous said...

You write very well. I am almost hooked to your blog.

Kaftaab said...

All it takes is one person at a time to make a difference and change someones life. If we all take time to dwell on this story than we can try to make this world a better place.

Anonymous said...

Good evening

Awesome blog, great write up, thank you!