Message from our International Leaders published on April 3, 2020
We hope you and your loved ones are safe and well.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is posing a level of danger and upheaval many of us have never experienced before; profound changes to our way of living, being and interacting with the world.
Our communities around the globe are struggling to cope with the consequences. With the current situation changing by the hour, our major, very immediate concern is the health and safety of our members. Many communities are short of assistants as some have had to self-isolate, while others have been called to return to their own homes of origin overseas.
Many of our day provision projects have had to close. Social distancing and changes to routine, can be challenging in any community setting, but these things may be especially distressing to people with intellectual disabilities. Like everyone else, we are having to adapt quickly and creatively.
The pandemic is deeply disorienting and leaves us fragile. And yet, life for our members continues, albeit in restricted ways. As it does so, people grow, lives are changed day by day, and we discover new capacities for resilience. At this challenging time, we are hearing uplifting and life affirming stories of L’Arche communities holding gatherings and prayers on-line, creating their own on-line classes, clapping for medical staff and painting rainbows of hope for windows. We have also witnessed extraordinary acts of kindness; such as the two young German assistants who, having been repatriated home from the UK, flew back to live this time with the Community in Manchester.
We wish to say a very public thank you to all our members who are continuing to adapt creatively to the increased pressure of social-isolation and in some cases self-isolation. A number of our assistants are supporting people in self-isolation and continue to do so whilst looking after their own families.
Our situation now
However, we are living in a time of great anxiety and uncertainty. As we write Europe is the epicentre of the pandemic. Sadly, five people with intellectual disabilities from the Oise region of France have already died from the virus and more are in hospital.
A terrible aspect of the coronavirus is the fact that it reserves its most lethal blow for the most vulnerable among us. Our immune-compromised members are particularly at risk. As the virus moves around the globe, we expect members of communities living in economies with less mature health care systems will be particularly exposed.
In addition to the significant physical and emotional strain we are also facing unknown financial implications.
The closure of projects; emergency support in some communities; the cost of safer transportation and improved communication and technology. In the global south we are also facing the costs and challenges of the increased cost of food and medicines.
How can you help
There are many ways you can help:
- Our communities struggling with isolation would love to hear from you, emails, cards, videos, anything to help them stay connected.
- If you live near a community and could help in anyway, please get in touch with the community leader. They may be looking for volunteers to help deliver food.
- We are launching a Covid-19 emergency appeal. If you are in the position to offer any financial support at this difficult time or could make a donation please click here to find out more about how you can help.
- Pray for us. Knowing we are held in prayer at this time is a great comfort to all of our members.
Stephan Posner and Stacy Cates-Carney