Because I was in the neighbourhood anyway, I decided to visit doña Josefa, Miguel’s mother, an 80-year old lady. She lives on her own and still manages.
Since Miguel (see picture) has been living with us, for a year already, she has not visited him much. She’s got aching knees, and it’s tough for her to find public transport from her home to our home in the centre of Juigalpa. We’ve had sporadic telephone contact, but she’s not great with a mobile phone. In principle Miguel visits his old home for a weekend once a month, if we are able to arrange safe transport in collaboration with Miguel’s family. Sometimes this does not work out.
Doña Josefa much appreciates that Miguel now lives with us, because none of her other children want to look after Miguel. Also typical is that Miguel’s contact person is not a sibling, but a brother-in-law. None of his sisters have had contact with Miguel since he has been living in our community.
Doña Josefa was happy to see me. Although I do not usually visit relatives of our core members at home (we encourage them to visit our community), I decided to make an exception. When I was about to go, she prepared a parcel for me to give to Miguel. I found it quite sobering really. For nearly 50 years she has been responsible for her intellectually disabled son, and now she is living alone in her old home. Hopefully she will be able to attend our Mother’s Day party on May 30th, to commemorate all the good things that have happened.
Meeting with clergy
Three streets away I have a meeting with clergy from the Roman Catholic province of Zelaya Central, Chontales and Rio San Juan. This group, led by the bishop, meets once a month for a work meeting. As this group had a large number of new pastors I had asked for a slot in one of their meetings to present Ruach’s work and to search for ways to collaborate. We were lucky: their monthly meeting takes places in different places, but this month it was Juigalpa’s turn to host the meeting. We were granted a slot in the meeting.
That morning Ana Alicia, the chair of the Ruach Foundation, and I met with 30 clergy. Not only did we get 10 minutes to explain our work, but there was more time for questions. There was genuine interest in our story.
Time will tell what this meeting has achieved. But every initiative that raises awareness for a better society in which there is a visible place for people with an intellectual disability is worthwhile.