Currently, Mercy Ships has several land-based programs which focus on improving the health care infrastructure of Benin. One of these programs is the Administrative Training Program. It's a three months course in which employees from local hospitals are paired with mentor/trainers from Mercy Ships. They learn about leadership, conflict resolution, and several basic computer programs. Simple things most of us take for granted.
On Friday, a graduation ceremony was held for four graduates who had completed the program. I was the photographer.
The graduation was held in the Queens lounge, the on-ship 'fancy' room used for such occasions. I sat at a table in the back, next to and his wife.
After the formality speeches were completed, Brenda, who runs the program, said a few words about each graduate. When she came to Euloge, she mentioned how much his confidence had improved during the three months. As she spoke, I watched Euloge try to hold the tears forming in the corners of his eyes backs. Eventually he cracked, and the tears rolled done his cheeks.
I didn't expect to get emotional at the graduation, but I almost joined him.
'Confidence' had cued his tears. I wonder what his insecurities and frustrations had been. I wonder how long he had judged himself by his inadequacies. I wonder how many things he didn't try because he was afraid of failing. I wonder how many wrong things he thought about himself.
I knew what he was feeling. I've felt it too.
But the beautiful part is the tears. The gentle breaking of the chain of self-doubt. His eyes attested to the fact that he'd gained much more than clerical skills over the past three months.
We all have insecurities. I think we need to remember that. Perhaps we'd be more likely to come along side of one another. To be that friend that sticks closer than a brother. We all need them.
Mercy Ships had been that friend to Euloge. And it really meant something to him.