End-of-Year retreat

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People gradually arrive, evening staff as well as Board members. We are awaiting Father Joe who today will again lead our retreat. He has to come all the way from Managua.

We usually organize a retreat every three months. Father Joe has lead most of the retreats, but if he is not available, we also know a female evangelical minister who also loves to come to us. Aren’t we lucky and ecumenical?
The telephone rings. It’s Father Joe. He’s a bit lost as he has never been in our new Home before. But he’s quite near, so when I walk outside, I already see his car coming in our direction.

I know Father Joe through a common American female friend who also lives in Managua. Joe is originally from the US, but has been living in Nicaragua for over 25 years, working for basic church communities and he also runs a small project in support of disabled people. He often brings friends to the retreat and in this way we got to know Jorge and Manuel who are both blind but manage their daily lives well. Today he brought Adela and Ana with him. We don’t know Ana yet. She is an American who is in Nicaragua for 10 months to do some research. She speaks Spanish well.

But what really surprises us is that Ana is able to take things out of her bag, write, go to the toilet, drink coffee and eat her plate of food without any help from others, with her two arms only half the usual length and some growth at the ends that cannot be called fingers. It’s amazing and inspiring to see what people can learn if they go for it!
Besides the themes of our retreats, days like this are gold to us, especially for our assistants who have not had much experience with disabled people. For them it is an eye opener that a lot more can be achieved with/for disabled people than they would have thought possible. They realize that progress in working with disabled people often depends on people in their circle who see ‘opportunities’ rather than ‘limitations’ from early on. Ana is fortunate to have parents who motivated her, early on, to do more and more. Daniel, Loyda, Jose and Jonathan now depend on us to see what their possibilities are and to believe in the progress they can make, even if it’s only by a millimetre at the time!