a story shared in the June 2016 newsletter of the Lotti Latrous Foundation, by Mrs. Latrous

AminataI was sitting with our head doctor N’Da next to my office following a long and hard day. Suddenly I saw a creature coming towards us across the courtyard. I realized after a few seconds that it was a woman, crawling on all four. “Oh no, not another drama, I can’t take it,” I thought to myself. The woman, dressed all in black, her hands inside small sandals and her knees wrapped in rags, was coming close and sat at my feet.

“Good morning, Mrs. Lotti.”  So she knew my name. “Good morning, Mother, what is your name?” “Aminata,” she replied. “Hello Aminata, is there anything I can help you with?” “No, Mrs. Lotti, I came to help YOU.”

With that she closed her eyes and began praying. With great intensity, and much peace and light emanating from her she asked God to continue to give me strength and courage to continue my humanitarian work. Once she was done I sat on the ground next to her; I needed to understand.

“Aminata, don’t you have any anger towards Him?” “But why would I, Mrs. Lotti?” “But you lead such a miserable life and you have to walk on all four like a dog.” I needed to know, to test her, to understand. “He gave me life, He gives me every single day the opportunity to take care of my eight children and my blind husband; each day when I get up I thank Him for this grace.” “When you get up? You cannot even stand upright!” “Well, does one need to stand upright to lead a dignified life?”  “So how do you live?” “Every morning I roll off my sleeping mat, I sit, I turn my head right and left and I pray. I thank Him for giving me the kind of life He feels is right for me. Then I go to the markets and in front of the mosques and I pray.” “You beg, then.” “If you want to call it that. I pray for people to be well.” “And that allows you to survive?” “Yes, I can feed my family, and my children go to school!”

Seldom had I seen such pride in the eyes of a woman as she told me that. “Aminita, you really don’t need anything from me?” “No, Mrs. Lotti, I just came to thank you for all you do in the name of humanity.” “Aminita, do you at least have a dream even though you feel your life is fine?” “Yes, Mrs. Lotti, I have a dream and I will realize it one day, I am sure. That is to open a little store for my oldest son.”

She kissed me, thanking me and left our yard on all four. A queen could not have exhibited more pride. “Aminita, come back soon, we need people like you!”

We stayed for a long time sitting there, in tears, after receiving such a beautiful life lesson. I sent one of my social workers to her home the next day to check if all she told me was true. Her blind husband, who also suffered from prostate problems, did not have one bitter word either. They were late in the rent payment, but she would not have asked, we proposed to help. It did not offend her dignity. And that is also our aim, to respect the dignity of human beings, no matter how destitute they are.