Committed to the disabled
Author: André Hege
Translator: Christopher Mobbs
Two Foundations in the Paris area, ‘Les Amis de l’Atelier’ and ‘Domaine Emmanuel’ are closely linked to French Mennonite history. These groups have helped or guided 4.000 people in 70 institutions and services.
This activity was initiated in 1950 through the friendship between Mennonites and a family with a disabled child. Something had to be done about the situation of the child, and in a small prefabricated building with neither water nor electricity a group of children started meeting. This insignificant initiative was developed into something more substantial through the creation of a first ‘Assistance through Work’ Centre in Chatenay-Malabry and then a second Centre with accommodation for disabled people in Hautefeuille, in the countryside East of Paris.
Little by little, with government funding, our development has progressed. We have become more professional, seeking to better understand the individual needs of each person and to personalise their care. The accommodations are adapted to assure maximum community integration. Home support services have now been added for those who can, with the right care, continue to live at home.
Both Foundations have created Centres specifically built and run for older disabled people. The ‘Domaine Emmanuel’ has developed special facilities for those who are mentally disabled after a mental illness.
Brotherly love: Accepting different points of view
Some of our homes provide full time medical care for those who need more intensive care. The two Foundations now have facilities for those suffering from severe disabilities. Both, working with Medical Institutes, welcome disabled people and in particular autistic children. Through these services we spread a message of respect and consideration which we pass on to disabled people.
We want to show consideration and respect to everybody, helping them to become responsible for their own lives as much as possible. It is also our aim to integrate disabled people into a normal work situation whenever possible. Providing somewhere to live and work creates integration and reduces the feeling of isolation.
We believe that brotherly love is increasingly being affirmed and revealed through our willingness to accept different points of view. Our experience must always remain appropriate to today’s needs and must show both creativity and adaptability.
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