'Before I came to L’Arche I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a job – from taking calls, being a carer - the President. Could’ve been anything. So I was not expecting anything and I didn’t have any idea of what I wanted to achieve. But I’m very happy that I arrived here. 

I hadn’t really thought about working with people with learning disabilities. Also, I would have found it weird that now I work in the same place that I live. That was a bit scary in the beginning. But after a few days or weeks it was fine. I still have my own time and I’m quite relaxed. It is light and there is not much drama.

I’ve learnt that I am able to do more than I thought I could with my condition. I had a paragliding accident four years ago now. Since I came here I’m getting more strength, more agility. It’s making things easier. Now I can bring the wheelchair upstairs if I want to, which is quite new. I have the balance and the strength to put it up without hurting myself. Now when I’m out with core members, I’m not afraid of not being able to support them in a safe way. So that’s pretty good. 

Before moving to L’Arche I felt unsure because I have never done it before - taking care of people who also had disabilities and being disabled myself. I was sure that I would find a way around and that if I couldn’t do something I would have help from people to do it. So that is why I was not afraid. But I was maybe thinking about what I would be able to do, what would be my limit. I feel like my limits have come down throughout the year. I’ve been able to do more and more.

I’ve had a really good relationship with Steve. I am just starting to feel confident with him which was sometimes a bit challenging. That’s the evolution in the relationship. I’ve learnt about how he was thinking and, for example, how to distract him when he doesn’t want to respond or move. He makes me laugh a lot and I make him laugh too. It’s quite a funny relationship.

It would be good for people to realise that people with learning disabilities are not only people we need to take care of but are also people who bring their own gift to the community. If we have the thought to go to them there will be something given back in return. I think that most of the population would not think about having a relationship with people with learning disabilities. It’s hard to know this unless you have personal contact with them. 

The first feeling people might have being around people with learning disabilities is discomfort, perhaps not being confident, not knowing what to do. When I first read on the L’Arche website about the gifts of people with learning disabilities I wondered what this could mean. It wasn’t until I lived here that I was fully able to understand what they have to offer. They make the people around them grow.'

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