Lala taking care of Jordan
I received an email the other day from Maria Linda 'Letlet' Paulino of the L'Arche Community, also known as 'Punla', the Tagalog for 'seed', in Cainta, Rizal. Cainta is part of the Metro Manila sprawl and and Punla is the only L'Arche community in the Philippines. I have visited Punla a number of times over the years and some of our Columban seminarians have worked there during their formation. I have also written a number of times about my friend Lala who was left in a garbage pail shortly after her birth in Cebu more than 30 years ago.
Here is part of Letlet's email.
You've seen the community, Fr Sean, and maybe you noticed that we live here together with our friends and we try to guide and support them to learn to be confident in whatever/however they can do to be self independent in making their choices/decisions and in attending to their basic daily needs with less supervision, except Jordan (in photo above) and Raymond whom we need to follow in their daily rhythm and structure which they've been familiar with and following everyday to feel the belongingness, security and at home.
We are giving the volunteer house assistants an allowance of P1,500.00 for the first three months plus board and lodging and as part of community program we let the assistants join the formation program and accompaniment for self awareness and personality growth. The first three months is a probationary period. There's an evaluation in the first month and then on the third months. If evaluation is okay, allowance will be increased to P2,500.00 starting on the fourth month to the 12th month. Each week there's a one day off and then after a month an additional 2 days off. The daily task is doing the household chores together with the other house assistants and the core members. (The core members are those with learning disabilities - the VIPs in L'arche). The first house is composed of four core members and the ideal number of house assistants is supposed to be five (three males and two females); the second house is for three core members and three house assistants.
Lala with Hachi
Letlet also wrote:
Our community is always in need of volunteers who can join us living in the community together with our friends with intellectual disabilities. I've been racking my brains about whom and where to contact to ask for help in looking for a potential person for us who is looking for meaning in life. The L'Arche community might possibly be able to help him or her in his/her search.
You may contact Letlet at firstname.lastname@example.org
This video from Erie, Pennsylvania, shows us something of the life of a L'Arche community. Being an assistant isn't easy but it is deeply enriching and a profound way of living the Gospel. For some assistants it has been a way of discovering the Gospel.