On the first day of class, I always ask students why they chose to take a community health agent class. One young woman answered this way: "Last year, I was at my favorite aunt's house when she had a stroke right in front of me. I immediately lifted her up and got people to help me take her to the hospital. But despite that, she ended up paralyzed and died a few days later. All my neighbors and family told me that it was my fault, that by picking her up so soon, I caused her to become paralyzed and die. I've always felt guilty for killing her."
In Haiti, this is the common belief - that when someone has a stroke, you cannot touch them. You have to leave them on the ground until they are able to get up of their own strength. If you touch them, you will make them be paralyzed.
I looked at that student and I told her, "It wasn't your fault. You did the right thing and it was not your fault that your aunt died."
She stared at me and then very slowly, a smile spread across her face. "Thank you," she whispered. "Thank you."
That is why we teach.