L’Arche International Family Day
Photo above: Musa, featured in an “As I Am” video
By John Guido with a message by Zoel Breau
Since I was a boy belonging to The World Explorer’s Club, I dreamed of visiting Africa, a continent of vibrant community, rich traditions, dynamic people, and abundant, colourful life. Two years ago, my dream finally came true when I had the chance to visit East Africa for a month. I traveled with a friend, a Holy Cross priest, visiting his communities and spending a week each in L’Arche Uganda and L’Arche Kenya.
Africa was everything I dreamt of and more. To be honest, it was overwhelming. At times, I did not know what was going on – the way food was cooked and what was eaten, the way the house and clothes were cleaned, the music, the traditions, and many other ways were so different than what I know at home. The communities were quite different in many ways too.
Yet from the moment I entered the L’Arche communities, I felt at home and welcomed as if I was family despite my culture and the colour of my skin. Undeterred by my inability to speak their languages, members with intellectual disabilities found ways to communicate and invite me to get to know them. The assistants, most of whom spoke English, shared their joys and struggles in ways that sounded familiar despite the many differences between us. And when we prayed, the language difference disappeared through familiar L’Arche rituals and in singing, drumming, and dancing rooted in their beautiful traditions.
On the first Saturday of October, the communities of L’Arche around the world celebrate L’Arche family day. We celebrate both the richness of diversity in our human family and our common humanity, our unique gifts and our need of one another. We stand in solidarity with persons with intellectual disabilities and their families around the world, especially in places where people are at risk, or not included as full citizens, because of their vulnerability.
Photo on left: Zoel Breau (second from left) visiting L’Arche in Lithuania
For the past 6 years, Zoel Breau has been the L’Arche International Delegate to L’Arche communities that are isolated – mostly in the developing world where one or two communities in a country have no national support structure and receive little to no government funding. Now, as he leaves this role to become the Community Leader of Saint John, New Brunswick, Zoel shares his thoughts on the gift of the communities he visited. His dream is for all of who are able to visit these communities and learn from them what community really means.
You can celebrate L’Arche Family day with us!
View L’Arche International’s presentation on Family Day: https://vimeo.com/293571219
To see the Global L’Arche Solidarity Album, visit the International website: https://www.larche.org/support-countries#all
Read about an appeal to help L’Arche Lithuania flourish: http://www.larchefoundation.ca/en/impacts/bulletins/fall_2018
To discover L’Arche powerful stories from around the world visit: https://www.larche.org/as-i-am
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