A month to the day and I still have recollections of our trip some are happy, some are sad, but all are invaluable. Not a day goes by where I don’t have some sort of retrospection from the week, whether it be hearing a song we sang in the back of a minibus with Susan, looking for a watch I realise I gave to a client and having a total reality check, sitting in French class thinking about how awful I was at pronouncing Romanian in Claudius or cleaning my room and finding art I got from the beneficiaries. These are precious memories, ones that will never leave my side. A month ago today I left Skibbereen with excitement and maybe slight naivety for what was ahead. There was no talk, video or presentation that could’ve prepared me, the experience alone was the sole realisation to this almost completely different universe I entered for a week.
A month ago tomorrow I had my first experience in a Group Home, they danced and sang at our arrival. I guess their happiness surprised me a little, they were so happy to see us even though they didn’t know many us, so welcoming and appreciative of everyone. In Ireland, as a society, we could label ourselves as critics, judgemental, and maybe even conventional to a degree. Yes we are welcoming, to those we choose to welcome, it’s what we feel comfortable with and is far from open. In the last 10, 20 years we are slowly breaking out of that outlook, your religion, race, gender, political views, sexuality shouldn’t change people’s treatment of you. We are all the same, we are all human.
A month on Sunday and I had my very first trip to a Pilot Centre. On entering the first house there was an overpowering smell of bleach. As we walked down the corridor we were welcomed by the nurses and suddenly we were in a small room full of clients. The severity of some of the physical disabilities made me feel powerless and emotional. I didn’t interact very well in that first home, but come the second house I conversed with a lady who said to me “I am aware of my disability but I am beautiful and intelligent”. This was one of the most inspiring things I’ve heard, there is a great lesson in that sentence, To put it simply, no matter what your situation, if you have a disability, an illness or something has set you back you are always beautiful and self-appreciation and self-love is the best attribute a person can have.