08/10/2020
By Monika Uboreviciute

Meet Monika...

I am a young woman from a tiny country called Lithuania. I came to Scotland straight after finishing school and gained a bachelor’s degree in International Business with Finance. I saw myself in a suit making big decisions over the phone. However, I soon grew to realise 9 to 5 is not for me. I had a few different jobs in my past and attempted a couple of business ventures with an ambition to create a perfect job for myself and for the society. However, as the whole world went on pause, I had to do something about it. And I remembered the promise I have made to myself a long time ago when I was visiting Betzata (L’Arche community in Lithuania) – when my world starts collapsing, I will join L’Arche and lose myself in the service to others. And this is exactly what I did.

Suddenly, I found myself free: free from employment, free from a relationship, free from any ties I had. I live for the experiences and this was something I wanted to immerse myself in for quite some time. When this clarity came to me one Wednesday morning, I reached out to the Edinburgh community and 2 calls, a bunch of applications and 5 days later I received an invitation to join the Community. I packed my bags and came to Edinburgh, leaving my home in Glasgow behind.

L’Arche was not new to me. I have been a friend of the Lithuanian Community for a few years now and already had an idea of how the fundamentals of this Community work. Therefore, I joined L’Arche because I wanted to grow. I wanted to experience something completely outside the box and challenge my own insecurities. I wanted to understand the unconditional love that expands beyond my family, become stronger, more accepting and giving. I felt a calling to throw myself into the unknown, into the unconventional and something completely out of my comfort.

When I decided to become a live-in assistant at the Skein, not many understood my decision. A lot of people questioned it saying ‘’You have a degree in Finance’’ or ‘’I could not do it’’. The reality is that actually everyone definitely can. L’Arche is so much more than taking care of people with learning disabilities. I actually share a house with my pals and get to hang out with them all the time. Everyone is equal, everyone is loved. Therefore, I decided to document my experience so my family and friends understand what journey I am on, things we do in the house, relationships we have and special moments we share. I want the whole world to know how much colour and life exposing yourself to such experience can bring to your world.

24 hours after joining L'Arche

Published on 10/06/2020

My life had turned upside down! From being locked in my own flat for the past 3 months to moving into a busy house with 4 core members, two other live-ins and plenty of live-out assistants! I was welcomed with flowers in my room, hand-crafted card, bunting on the door and hugs.  To sum my first day up, I am overwhelmed, excited, tired, challenged, looked after and can see it is a beginning of something very special.

 

10 days after joining L'Arche

Published on 19/06/2020

First week I spent as a ‘guest’ not having any duties, simply getting the feel for the community, trying to observe how things are run and asking loads of questions. Even though I very much value my own quiet space and identify challenges ahead of me, I feel good, positive, and grateful. I can see how much internal growth and invaluable life lessons L’Arche is going to grant me with throughout my time here. But it definitely is not going to be all peaches and cream.

 

47 days after joining L'Arche

Published on 25/07/2020

Settling into the new reality has not been easy. Becoming a support worker without previous experience, moving into a chaotic house in a new city coupled with a pandemic and leaving my old life behind is a challenge in itself! However, there is love and care around me to the extent I have never experienced before in my entire life. I feel how my world and my heart is expanding through the bonding with both core members and fellow assistants. Fulfilment, gratefulness, abundance.



What have I learned?

Being an assistant in L’Arche simply shows you how all of the people on this planet are equal. Core members teach every one of us how life and love does not discriminate any of us based on the background, education, race, language, faith or anything else. The language of love is universal and being able to experience love without expectation, trust without having to work for it emphasises the true bright colours of human nature – we are all giving, strong and need to share our lives with one another. Every day I am still learning how to go back to the basics of human connection and be fully present because this is the time when the magic happens. It could be a simple hug from a core member when you really need it or a long conversation with one of the assistants at the end of a difficult day.

L’Arche journey is not an easy one but very much fulfilling and eye-opening. Through the emotional exhaustion and struggle you pull through to the other side to realise what an invaluable life lesson you have just learnt. It is a journey of inner growth, spirituality, community life and humbleness. But the best thing of all is you have constant support and people to turn to no matter what as you truly are in such a safe space to be vulnerable and imperfect. There is no judgement, only nourishment and encouragement.

The benefit of being a part of the L’Arche community is that it is mutually beneficial for all parties. As an assistant I help core members with their routines and in exchange they do certain chores around the house I never get to do. I literally live with my friends and we run things together as a one big family. We laugh, we argue, we dance, we cook, we care for each other and we support one another. Through leading this way of living I can only hope core members do not feel anyhow different from the rest of the society and gives us, assistants, the space to ‘’ground’’ ourselves, shake off unnecessary masks, open our hearts and strive to become better because living alongside people with learning disabilities you receive a gift of seeing the world through different lenses.

You can follow Monika's journey on Instagram: @monika.uboreviciute

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