I live with my family in Bacolod City on the island of Negros, one of the many islands that make up the nation of the Philippines. Our home happens to be located near a rehabilitation center for people with disabilities.
I will never forget something that happened in 1992, when I was in the sixth grade. I had gone home for lunch, and I was in a hurry to get back to school. While crossing the street, I happened to notice some nursing students from one of the local professional schools. They were laughing. I wasn’t sure why until I saw him—the blind man. After I had crossed the street, he was almost at my side.
I had to wait there for the jeepney, a public transportation vehicle, to come. The blind man realized I was there and called out, “Friend, could you call a taxi for me?”
For some reason, I felt uncomfortable and embarrassed. I thought that if I helped him, the people across the street might make fun of me, too. Besides, I was afraid of him. In addition to being blind, he had other physical disabilities; he couldn’t seem to control one side of his body. I moved away from him slightly. Maybe he won’t hear me, I thought. Maybe he will decide he just imagined someone was here.
But it didn’t work. Even after I distanced myself from him, he knew I was still there. Over and over, he asked me to help him. I tried to be even quieter. If I could only stop breathing! I thought.
I was grateful when I saw the jeepney approaching. I got in quickly and left the blind man standing in the street. I told myself: Nobody knows about this. Nobody knows except me and that man, and he doesn’t even know who I am. But I knew I had acted very inconsiderately.
After I got to school, I couldn’t stop thinking about the blind man. I tried to concentrate on my lessons, but my mind was uneasy. Nobody knows. There’s no way he could ever recognize me.
When I went home, I decided to tell my mother what had happened. “Why did you let that opportunity pass?” she asked. “There is Someone who always knows. He expects us to help one another.”
Later I remembered my sister. She is mentally disabled. How would I feel if someone treated her like that? I cried as I remembered what I had done.
When I was in my first year of high school, I was given a chance to correct my mistake. As before, I was preparing to cross the street. I was really in a hurry because I could see an old friend on the opposite side. I wanted to catch up with her, and I called out to her.
To my surprise, I heard a voice behind me, a familiar voice. I looked back and saw the same blind man. He had heard me calling to my friend. Of course, he did not know I was the same person who had refused to help him once before. He asked again for my help.
I didn’t hesitate this time. I called a taxi for him and helped him get in. He thanked me briefly. When he was gone, I looked across the street. I had missed my friend, but I didn’t mind. I was happy that Heavenly Father had given me a second chance to help that man.
I’m in my third year of high school now, but I still remember what I learned from the blind man. I know that God loves all of us. And even if we think nobody can see the things we do, he always knows what choices we make—and he is always willing to help us make the right ones.