My vocation was born out of a painful family event: the loss of my 18-year-old brother.
I was 13 years old, never went to church, and couldn't understand how God could be so good as to allow an 18-year-old boy to die in his prime.
I still had to go to the funeral Mass. Then I went back to accompany my sister who was in the choir, and every Friday I saw her kneeling in front of that little golden box.
She spent a lot of time there. One day while she was praying, I read a prayer for vocations by Paul VI. I didn't know what vocations were, but it was a way for me to entertain myself and I kept reciting it. As I grew up, I realised that I was praying for myself.
I finally met the Daughters of Charity in a home, where I was deeply moved by their service to the elderly. They asked me to help in the home, which I accepted, but asked them never to speak to me about anything to do with God or the sacraments.
They respected my choice as an angry teenager to the point of my heart's desire to ask for baptism and then to make my first communion.
That day was precious to me, especially the moment they mentioned my name. Monsignor Petit said: "Nadieska, that is not a name"; and he added: "of Charity". There I felt that my name took on another strength, that of being the beloved daughter of Our Lady of Charity.
Time passed. I took my conversion process very seriously.
I started to change, to live differently, so that my first commitment was to go to church every time I left school. I continued to serve the elderly, took responsibility for catechesis in my parish... This daily life led me to ask to join the congregation of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul some time later.
This is how I gave myself: Daughter of Charity at the age of 18 in the midst of the people of God whom I love, to whom I want to give all that I have and all that I am. I thank Mother Church for teaching me to live as a small, anonymous person. God has made me see that his Providence always rises before the sun.
If I were to be reborn, I would be a Daughter of Charity, because to be a Daughter of Charity is to recognise Jesus Christ in the face of the poorest people; in any face.
This taught me that poverty is not only material, but also spiritual, the latter usually as strong as the former.
I thank the Lord for having made me a woman, for having allowed me to dedicate myself to Him from the age of 18 until today, at nearly 50 years of age.
As the "Alcoholics Anonymous" brothers I accompany say: "For today, Lord, just for today".
For today, everything. And for You, everything.
Sister Nadeslida Almeida,
Venezuelan Daughter of Charity serving in Havana