Today, no country in the Federation has been left untouched by Covid-19: many of our workshops have had to close temporarily; programmes have been put on hold; everywhere, a simple walk to buy food has become more complicated; but, at the same time, right across the Federation, we are witnessing an outpouring of creativity and solidarity as communities respond to the virus.
In Nandi Bazaar, India, the message is “Many things are different now, but not everything: we are still collecting the cashew nuts in our garden.” The community Asha Niketan Kolkata are responding to the closure of their day provision and outreach programmes by organising food deliveries to the families affected. El Arca Mexico, they are making cakes and in Brussels they have discovered a passion for karaoke. Kasia in Poznan told us “I’m painting Easter cards”. In L’Arche Wroclaw, Poland, they are creating Vogue style photo shoots. Al Safina, Syria say “Share a smile—it is contagious”. Al Fulk, Egypt have decided to “beat it by playing fun and beautiful games.”
Members of Nandi Bazar, India, collecting cashew nuts / L’Arche in Poland working on a ‘Vogue’ photoshoot!
Messages of safety and hope
Of course, life has changed hugely across all the communities, but what remains the same is the spirit of solidarity with each other and the wider Federation. Ironically, social distancing means it’s no longer quite so easy now to speak to our neighbours: but the painted rainbows in many of our windows show them that we care, and thanks to their many offers of support—like the neighbours of El Arca Choluteca community, in Honduras who are bringing food to the community—we know they care about us too.
Members of L’Arche Ireland, Netherlands, Canada and France.
You will never walk alone
Unfortunately, for some communities life is very hard indeed: the communities in Oise, France have lost five members to the virus and the restrictions in place have meant only very simple, small funerals were possible.
We know that the next few months are likely to bring more sad news for our Communities, families and friends but it is also an unexpected opportunity to live in the moment and remember what is really important. We are very grateful for contact and support from old friends. One ex-member of Brussels phoned his former foyer just before supper, and immediately found himself invited to choose the song for everyone to sing before the meal!! “It was as if I had never left…!”, he said. Technology is allowing us to meet together for prayers and community gatherings.
Internationally, the airplanes may be grounded, the skies may be quieter, but the invitations to connect, to stay in touch have certainly taken off in all directions from joining online prayers to community gatherings.
Around the Federation of L’Arche, the message of the rainbow is repeated again and again: “we are with you.”
Members of L’Arche past and present are welcome to join the L’Arche International Members facebook page. We would love to hear more about how you are living this time.