About removing barriers for people with disabilities and not only...

Often in our lives because of various obstacles we cannot do what we want. A life a person with special needs contains much more these barriers. They arise from the activities and the environment in which a person is. There are different adaptation and rehabilitation programs, occupational therapy, and others aimed at eliminating these barriers through working with people with disabilities.

Between September and November 2013 our community was able to to implement the project "Autonomy as an alternative to boarding life for peoplewith intellectual disabilities", which was sponsored by the Department of Business Information and Communication of the Lviv regional state administration. In addition to spreading knowledge in society about the opportunities and talents of people with disabilities, one of the objectives of the project was their social habilitation and promotion of their creative talents. Habilitation is a system of measures to capture individual knowledge and skills necessary for independent living in social environment: understanding the capabilities and limitations of social roles, understanding of rights and responsibilities, the ability to perform self-service. Any person with a disability attending a workshop of L’Arche community and living in a house of accommodation, had the opportunity to learn everyday skills. In an interview with Galya Nychyk (young girl with special needs and a member of the community L'Arche Kovcheh), we learn what she has learned and what she thinks about it:

- Galya, tell us please what exactly has you learned in the house?

- I learned to vacuum the floor, use a microwave (myself switched it on, put and pulled out a plate of food), use the washing machine (though not all of its functions studied).

- How do you clean your room? Do you clean it yourself, or someone helps you with this?

- I am trying to put things into place to maintain order every day. On Saturday I sweep, wipe dust, wipe the floor with a mop.

- I also heard that you learn to cook. How do you manage to do it?

- For example, recently I cut the onion, potato for soup. I try to remember the sequence of products to be added.

- Did you need much time to learn all this?

- Yes, a bit.

- How much?

- Not very much.

- What do you think, can friends (people with intellectual disabilities) who come to live in the house, learn something useful for themselves as well?

- I think they can, if they want.

- So, the main thing is to want it?

- Yes, because if they do not want, then none of these things will work.

- What do you think: why do friends have to learn independence? Why would they need to know how to clean, to switch on a microwave, wash in the washing machine?

- I, for example, have been living with my mother all my life. My mother did everything at home. I helped a little, but it was very little. Anything can happen in life. Mom will not always be there. My mother is at the hospital now. I can happen that I will start to live alone. And in such cases I will not have to wait that someone gives me something or helps to do.

To study everyday habits and skills of self-service training for employees of the organization on "Teaching the skills of self-service for people with disabilities" was provided and tasks were defined: to teach people with disabilities to use a microwave, electric kettle, clean a room and so on. Each task was broken into steps. Employees (assistants) of every shop and house developed instructions for each task, and then began to conduct classes. This project was a great opportunity to learn not only for people with disabilities but also for employees and volunteers who attend the workshops.

And that's what students of Journalistic department wrote after visiting the community: "... It turned out that people with intellectual disabilities, who seemingly only receive, have much to teach us. They can help us get back to something that is important in life, remember that God equally endowed with human dignity all of us –whether we are strong or weak... One of the heaviest burdens for people who are intellectually disabled is isolation from the world in which they have no place. This is a huge problem, not their problem but ours, the problem of the whole society. If we stop to look for perfection and accept the one who stands before us without undue expectations or hopes, we can witness incredible existence and often unexpected gifts to us: honesty and openness, love and fidelity, simplicity and humility, the gift for a particular trade or craft”.