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My home coming

My home coming

My name is Christopher.  I am 32years old.  I have down’s syndrome.  I am very excited because this weekend I will be visiting my father from my community of L’Arche Kenya.  I will go all by myself.  I will also take home for my father, a packet of sugar and a loaf of bread.  I am sure he will be very happy to see me. I will also meet so many of my old friends. 

Before I joined L’Arche Kenya I lived with my father in the village 65km away from Nyahururu.  I had many friends. I liked to visit them a lot.  So much so that some of them took advantage of me.  They asked me to work for them for less than justified pay.  I also used to stay out until late in the night and my father had trouble keeping track of me.  He was always worried for my safety when I came home late.  He was never sure whether I had enough to eat. 

 

L'Arche Family Day 2015

L’Arche Family Day 2015

By Peter Mwangi

This year, L’Arche Kenya joined other communities in the world in celebrating the L’Arche Family Day. The theme of this year and the guideline provided by the Federation on ”forgiveness and reconciliation” was found very useful and opportune.

Though we were not able to celebrate on the 3rd of October, we decided to spread the message throughout the whole month. Each week we celebrated mass and reflected on a chapter of the guideline.

Seven graduates of L'Arche Kenya

By Peter Mwangi

In life, human beings achieve many milestones. They mark the highlights of the journey of our lives. For seven of L’Arche Kenya members, one more marker was put in place on 20th July 2015. They all graduated. Some with educational qualifications and others with other equally important moves in life.

Three of our volunteer assistants graduated from the University while four core members who have moved from our mainstream occupational therapy workshops to much more independent ones also graduated. The graduates are Christopher Muhoro, Hannah Gathoni, Susan Waguthi, and Alex Kamale all moving to more independent occupational therapy workshops and Jacob Chege, Isaac Mungai and Milka Wanjiru all from Kenyatta University.

From L-R Hannah, Susan, Chris, Isaac, Milka, Jacob and AlexThere is no celebration without cake.

Graduates take photos with their colleagues

KEEP THE FIRE BURNING

KEEP THE FIRE BURNING

By Peter Mwangi

Keeping the fire buringis was the theme of this year’s pilgrimage held on 27th March 2015. It was held in a religious shrine twenty kilometers south west of our community by the name of Subukia, Shrine of Mary.

The venue is a revered place for practicing Catholics and even though our community is ecumenical; all the members treat it with the respect it deserves.

We participated in many interesting activities including group work, lighting a symbolic fire and a climb to hill-top springs. The way to the springs is a beautiful prayer trail representing the way of the cross and was very appropriate as we were also in the period of lent and approaching Easter.

Unlike in many other years when only the “able” normally take the hike, this year all the “willing” did including those on wheelchair assisted by their colleagues.

It was truly a pilgrimage with a difference as the photos show.

 

L’Arche Kenya from a core-member’s perspective

Reflections by Samuel Mutahi and captured by Patrick Ndahi

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Its so heart warming that happiness never decreases by being shared in our two houses, Betania Home and Effatha Home, and in our Marleen workshops.

This pierce of writing is the result of a discussion I had with Samuel Mutahi, a core member of L’Arche Kenya, who is currently working in a Candle Workshop, which is one of the 5 Occupational Therapy (OT) workshops run by the community. Mutahi’s passion for candle making ticks, and listening to him explain the basics of making one, turns the task into a hobby.

The symbolism of candles is reflected in many ways in our religious and cultural traditions, but more importantly, a handmade candle lit in L’Arche community represents a love radiated by core members and their assistants in their living and working together in a spirit of welcome, sharing and simplicity.

Candles are made to burn, but even if they don’t, they still can be beautiful as decoration. In our daily living and working in the workshops, we discover the secret of what is unique in ourselves as core members and assistants. We also realize how each make a unique contribution to the wider community, and that we are not just people in the houses and working in the workshops; we are a part of the world with a message, a mission and a purpose.

Most of us enjoy the splendor and glory of candles. They are possible reminders of our possible triumph over darkness. In our community, we welcomed Dennis, Daniel and Claude in July, 2013 to our workshops as day-programme core members. They have been a source of joy to us as they reveal their value and beauty to us, and challenge us to be generous with our time, attention and tenderness. This year in January, we welcomed Alex to our day-care program, but also welcomed Dennis to Betania Home the very month.

When a candle burns, the melting wax on the candle in a way disfigures the candle, representing the risk of pain that exist in a love relationship. Community life is painful but it is also a marvelous adventure and a source of life. The presence of the likes of Dennis, Daniel, Mutahi and the other sixteen core members in our community reminds us of the fragility of human life.

“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness”, goes an old saying. But just as a candle cannot burn without fire, assistants and core members in L’Arche Kenya cannot love without a spiritual life. We base our trust in God in our daily working and walking together.    

Finally, there are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflect it……