“I love L’Arche, but the hardest thing about community is when assistants leave.” said long time ago Linda Rees, a former member with learning intellectual disabilities led of L’Arche Brecon (UK). There is no denying Linda’s truth: saying goodbye is tough, especially when you have just spent the past year getting to know and like the person. During that year, assistant and core member will have shared so much: bathing, tooth-brushing, shopping, cooking, sitting on the sofa, in giggles and the quiet times too, always building trust… and now sharing the tears that can accompany the farewell celebration.
* From lef to to right: Jim Cargin, Linda Rees & Steve Basey
However, there is another side to the story, which also needs telling: Steve, in Brecon, is going on holiday again to his friend Ellen, a former assistant, at her home in Austria; after a year or so in L’Arche France, Eric decided with his wife to adopt two children with a disability; Jonas Ruskus, an ex-assistant, now serves on a UN committee defending the rights of people with a disability. It’s called impact.
* Lilias MacIntyre
At Jim Cargin’s leaving party from L’Arche Highland (Scotland) to go and found L’Arche Brecon (UK), Lilias MacIntyre, a community member with learning intellectual disabilities, said this: “I know why you are going:, it is so that people like me don’t have to live in hospital.” The ‘people like me’ still jars with Jim, over 30 years later, but Lil was right. We didn’t know it at the time, but her own generous goodbye meant that one day, another lady would leave her own institution, say hello to life outside it, and make her own unique impact on society: that lady was Linda Rees.
L’Arche’s impact can last a life-time.