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The Legs and Arms for Good of Isa Solá rjm

September 15, 2016

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Harper Lee, Pulitzer Prize 1961

There are people who should never die. Isabel should have been immortal. Blond angels, who dedicate their lives to improving the world starting with the hardest hit places, should be eternal. Like Harper Lee’s mockingbird, the Catalan missionary Isabel Solá Matas poured out her heart before those whom the cosmopolitan society converts into mere numbers. Hers were more than 300. Haitian children and adults who were left mutilated by the earthquake that hit the Caribbean country in 2010. More than 300 for which the religious sister Solá manufactured legs. With her hands and some plaster and plastic, she made prosthetic limbs in a workshop on the outskirts of Port au Prince.
To be able to tell her story is a gift for any journalist. It has light and drama. The latter occurred in the country where the triumph of death is overwhelming. We knew last September 2 when two bullets clipped the wings of the missionary. She was in the middle of a traffic jam driving her old white SUV when two men approached the car window and shot her twice. Afterward they stole her purse and disappeared into the crowd of vehicles. Isabel died instantly. “Surely she has already forgiven her murderers. Isa was like that,” recalls her friend Marta Guitart, secretary general of the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary, to which the 51 year old nun belonged, the youngest of six children raised in a wealthy family in Barcelona.
To be able to tell her story now is a frustration. It is unfair to give voice to a heroine who no longer has it. The first time she raised it in Haiti was in 2008. Before that she had done it for 10 years in another afflicted country, this time in Africa, Equatorial Guinea. She was one of the 13,000 Spanish missionaries spread around the world. In Guinea she confronted the regime of Teodoro Obiang with her word. She could not stand the oppression and injustice to which the Guinean dictator had subjected his people. She always took the side of the weakest.
As she did immediately upon her arrival in Haiti. She set as her first objective learning the strange local language of the country, Creole (a mixture of French and African dialects) used primarily by the extremely poor population (70%). Isabel knew that to relate to the poor it was essential to speak their language. French sufficed for her to defend herself among the rich and the authorities.
Her mission during the first two years was to go around the most desolate villages of the country with a mobile ambulance to immunize children. The religious sister was a nurse. She completed the course in Barcelona after finishing her novitiate in Madrid. She also studied Teaching and years later graduated in Psychopedagogy. Thus she was teaching children in Port au Prince and training the teachers.

By @Lucasdelacal. Continue reading in “El Mundo”