Coordinating organisation: NGO Actio Catholica Patria
Host: Kaunas Ark community: http://www.kaunoarka.lt/
Location: Kaunas, Lithuania
About the project
Association Kaunas l’Arche community is a community which mission is to reveal the gifts of people with or without disabilities through close and communal relationships. It is a small faith-based community of friendship and mutuality between people with intellectual disability and those who assist them. Community life, spirituality and professionalism are the desired basis of our organization.
Kaunas l’Arche community is based on Christian values and strives to live its daily life in Christian spirituality. It is young organization and community (established in 2010) permanently searching for the best way of being open, welcoming, professional and co-responding to the actual needs. Kaunas l’Arche community is a part of The International l’Arche Federation (www.larche.org).
The community operates as a day center in community house where three-four assistants live and work. During the day people with disability assisted by employees and volunteers do simple art works and daily duties together. Whatever activity is being done, the most important thing is to do it with (not instead of!) a disabled person and to be open to create a personal bonds and friendship with him/her. Also there are common activities, feasts, trips, camps, other events during the weekends or other time.
We are going though discernment process towards the type of community where people with disability and assistants would permanently live together sharing their everyday lives.
Our present community consists of 23 people with intellectual disability, 6 employees, 5-8 volunteers, board members and a circle of friends, parents, supporters etc. Not all the persons come every day, according to several factors they are spread over the week so that everyday there are 12-18 persons in total.
Since its very beginning Kaunas l’Arche community has involved volunteers as we believe that personal relationships between people with and without disabilities are the most important and mutually benefit both to a person with disability and a volunteer.
Organization is permanently developing a structure of work with volunteers: regular meetings, reflections, seminars, feasts are organized. There is a person responsible for voluntary work in our organization. All of the employees have volunteering experience, most of them have been international volunteers in analogous organizations.
Most of persons with disability are able to take care of themselves and do simple tasks, but still often they need to be attended, motivated, encouraged or guided. Our experience shows that a friendship with a volunteer motivates to learn new things, encourages them to become more socially active. A volunteer would be asked to assist a person with disability in his/her activities. The typical day and tasks for a volunteer would look like follows: 9:00 Gathering (a volunteer can be asked to accompany persons while they are gathering, occupy them, eg. make a tea together, initiate some small physical exercises, to have a friendly talk…) 10:00 Community prayer (a volunteer is asked to join a prayer that consist of some songs with moves, Gospel, reflection, personal prayer. Depending on volunteer’s wish he/she can be involved in organizing or leading a prayer. Note: our community has Christian roots, but it welcomes and respects the beliefs and traditions of coming people and encourages them to deepen their spiritual life, whether or not rooted in a traditional religious affiliation). 10.30 Physical exercises (a volunteer may be asked to help in this activity or sometimes organize it) Work in groups. Depending on work group, a volunteer might be asked to help in preparing lunch, making handcrafts, working in the garden and other actual works (going to a shop, preparing a feast…) 13.00 Lunch (some persons might need assistance while eating). 14.00 Back to work. 15.30 Cleaning (a volunteer should organize, motivate, coordinate, help in cleaning). 15.45 Relaxation and reflection of a day. 16.30 Leaving. There may occur some special events, feasts, trips or projects where various help of a volunteer might be needed. A volunteer will have an opportunity to live a friendship with persons with learning disabilities, to learn more about their lives and the ways of communicating with them. Also he/she will experience community life that enriches in social, values, spiritual meaning. It might be a great experience for persons who are planning to build their career in social work sector. If interested, a volunteer will have an opportunity to learn about Lithuanian social welfare system. A volunteer also has a possibility to improve their social skills, to learn different ways of dealing with conflicts and different emotions.
Kaunas l’Arche community will welcome motivated volunteers who would be willing to understand the communal principles of the organization. A volunteer is desired to be positive and open-minded, flexible, active and helpful. Some initiatives from volunteers’ side, discussed with the team, are very welcome. He/she should be open and active in creating relationships with community members. It would be an advantage if a person would have at least some experience with people with mental disability. We would accept persons over 18 years old. Recruitment process will include communication by e-mails, Skype or phone calls between an applicant and voluntary coordinator or whole team. If it would be possible, we would like an applicant to visit local l’Arche community before coming, to better understand the basic features of l’Arche communities. For more detailed information, please take a look here: http://www.patria.lt/en/news/long-term-evs-project-offer-at-larch-community.html
Please send CV and short motivational letter to email@example.com till 19th January and add contact details of your sending organization. Please indicate why exactly this project interests you, what you can offer in terms of service and what you could learn in the project.