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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A new student! by Daisy Leigh

Another week and it’s crazy how fast they are passing. Last week the team really got to grips with the various elements of the programme. Callum and Cheick learned the rhythms of the Eveil section, repainting the black board and providing coloured chalk to motivate the users to get drawing and responding to basic numbers and letters. I’m very proud to say that their presence there has resulted in a new day patient attending Arche. One day last week whilst the team was holding a sports session a boy and his father passed by us on the way to attending an appointment with the centre’s physiotherapist Yve. Watching everyone enjoy activities inspired the patient to join in, which he did with the permission of Yve and to the pleasure of his father. Once finished with sport he and his father attended his appointment, then left to find the Eveil class (the physiotherapist’s office is in this section) in session drawing and chanting the alphabet. Again he joined in before leaving to return home.
The following week when he returned for his weekly physiotherapy appointment his father spoke to Yve about how please he felt to see his son join in with activities and interact socially with the volunteers and the centre users. He also explained how unfortunately though his son had been enrolled in school he had had to leave due to his special needs being too extensive to be catered to in an ordinary school. Since then he has stayed at home with his parents. Though obviously well loved and cared for , his father expressed regret that he had no social interaction with people his own age, or with people that understand intellectual disabilities.
Yve then invited me to meet and speak with the father and the three of us discussed the merits of social interaction as a method of therapy ; how activities such as sport work not only to stimulate muscles, but rather in a whole manner of interlinking ways ; building teamwork capacities, accepting and following instructions ; receiving oral commands and responding physically etc. In brief I found myself explaining the core rational behind International Service and Arche’s partnership. Yve explained that his observations could be easily and infact more comprehensively achieved by following the son’s interaction and participation in the sports and education sessions at Arche, and that he was welcome to participate whenever he wanted. The father then responded that despite the financial and logistical difficulties of traveling from their home to Arche, he was going to bring his son on a daily basis to join us in sport and educatonal activities.

I passed an hour that morning with his son, watching him engage with various activities and tasks with enthusiasm. His active participation and desire to learn made it sad to think that for years he had been unable to receive an education. It also made me reflect upon the extents to which the lack of support provided to people with disabilities also impedes upon the lives of relations and other care providers. In a country where so many people live in poverty, earning less than a dolar a day, it is difficult to imagine that the government will begin to give to a population of the community who has not the voice to ask for what they need. It will always be those who demand loudest who receive the most attention, and yet I cannot think of a more vulnerable and under supported people than those living with intellectual difficulties, who are reliant on the support of others. Nor the families that support them. It reiterated for me the necessity of the work we are doing here at Arche, and the necessity of providing a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.

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