«Celebration is a special activity of community members: they are happy and thankful to the Lord for having joined them together; He cares for them and loves them. They are no longer separate individuals, locked in their own solitude and independence. They are a single body, in which each of them has a special place»
November 17 L’Arche-Kovcheh community celebrated the 5th anniversary of “Vitania” – the house, where people with mental disabilities and their assistants reside. This is the first house of supported accommodation and the first house of L’Arche community throughout the former Soviet Union, which was opened in view of the needs of community members and their families.
Celebration of “Vitania” birthday began with prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary which was served by Fr.Tarasiy Holota and Fr.Mykola Lipitak. Later community members and guests mentioned the brightest events in the House life, wrote a letter to Jean Vanier, dreamt of the future of “Vitania”.
Uliana Kudla, the house coordinator, said that the purchase of the house was a very important event in the life of community: “We had dreamed a lot of the house and this dream came true. During 5 years all our friends (in such words we addressthe people with mental disabilities in L’Arche), who wanted, lived in the house. Here they and assistants cook together, do shopping, learn to clean and to take care for themselves”. Halyna Pelyschak, who was one of the first friends who lived in the house, says that she feels a special atmosphere here: “I love to be here and to learn to do everything. Most of all I like cooking borsch and peeling onions. We also relax and spend time together in the evening”.
The first community leader Sr. Lukia Murashko, a volunteer of the house Fr. Mykola Lipitak, representatives of the Center of spiritual support for people with disabilities “Emmaus”, regional Faith and Light community leader Uliana Roy, and neighbors came to congratulate “Vitania”.
In general L’Arche-Kovcheh includes 63 people with mental disabilities. Four friends with assistants who help them live in rotation in the house during a week. “Vitania” also provides support to families of persons with disabilities from L’Arche-Kovcheh community in crisis situations. For example, when the family of our friend has a need, he/she can live in the house out of turn and as long as required.
The main emphasis in L’Arche-Kovcheh refers to creation of special friendships between people with and without disabilities. Such kind of relations is called mutually transformative. A person with disabilities, who would seem mostly receive help, can in fact teach a lot how to return to the spiritual life, think on the sense of our life and remember that God has given a human dignity to all of us, both to the strong and to the weak.
If we stop looking for perfection and accept those before us, we can see incredible and often unexpected gifts: sincerity and openness, love and loyalty, spontaneity and immediacy, simplicity and humility, the gift of a particular profession and craft.
L’Arche-Kovcheh in Lviv is the first L’Arche community in Ukraine, which officially became a member of International Federation of L’Arche Communities in 2008. The community includes about 100 members (63 people with special needs and 30 assistants and volunteers). The purpose of the community is to give people who are alienated from the society an opportunity to be involved in the community, to nurture self-esteem and values of their lives through friendship and common work, leisure and prayer.
In general NGO of L’Arche-Kovcheh includes four workshops and day program for people with profound mental disabilities, the house of supported accommodation and Coordination Office. Workshops are located in different parts of the city. Daily people with special needs and assistants make various products there: decorative candles, icons, beaded necklaces, woolen products, greeting cards etc. Day program is a program of social adaptation for persons with profound mental disabilities.
L’Arche community in the world exists since 1964 when Jean Vanier and Fr.
Thomas Philippe invited two mentally disabled men from state institution to share a home with them in Trosly-Breuil village. This first community, which was established in France with Roman Catholic roots, has grown into many communities in different cultural and religious traditions. Today, L’Arche is the International Federation including 149 communities in 37 countries at 5 continents.
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