It was a beautiful Monday morning, and I was going to meet my client Rosa* for an accompaniment to the Mexican Consulate to start the process of getting a consular ID. Rosa completely lost her vision thirteen years ago after complications from a medical procedure stemming from a brain infection. Rosa came to us because she is seeking assistance in getting a Mexican Consul Identification card (la matricula) and finding a job. She is an incredibly gifted woman, as she is attending English classes and guitar lessons each week at one of our partnering agencies here in Little Village.
I was starting the week after an emotional roller coaster of a weekend, and the stresses of the weekend were still weighing heavily on my mind. With Rosa, I figured I could try to sound like my usual up-beat, chatty self; since she couldn’t see my face, she wouldn’t be able to tell that I was so emotionally drained. It knew it would be difficult, but Rosa and getting her safely to the consulate were the main priorities at that time. I thought I was doing okay at covering up my stress, but not long into the second leg of the trip, Rosa turns to me, her eyes directed just over the top of my head and she asks, “¿Hillary, estás triste hoy?” “Hillary, are you sad today?” My jaw dropped. I was caught off-guard, but eventually was able to respond that, “Si, estoy un poco triste hoy,” “yes, I am a little sad today.”
Without even discussing all the details with Rosa, I felt a sense of relief. We continued to chat, but I no longer felt like I needed to put up a front. That day I accompanied Rosa to the consulate and helped her get the information she needed, but she also accompanied me. Her perception, kindness, and presence were such a comfort to me, and that sense of mutual companionship exemplifies what “accompaniment” means at Taller de José.
*All stories are based on real clients at Taller de José. Names and images have been changed to protect client privacy.