France - The Care Home on the occasion of COP 21

The organisation and holding in Paris of COP 21, from 30 November – 1 December 2015 was an occasion of immense stimulation and questioning. What was COP 21? What has it to say to us? In what way are we, in a care home, concerned by this international conference?

We were stimulated to be informed and to discover what was at stake in this conference. Information, newspapers, documents and the Internet were all called upon. From the outset, the director of the care home and the activities team were motivated for this. 
 
A lecture: To raise awareness within the care home as a whole we had the immense good fortune of receiving Madame Elena Lasida who agreed to come and give a talk on what was at stake in relation to this COP 21. 
We succeeded in interesting and bringing together more then eighty persons: residents, members of the families, staff, the reception and kitchen staff, members of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Assumption and of the neighbouring com-munities. Elena Lasida captivated her audience and, with an interactive method, stimulated the interest and questions of many there. 
 
Her message was clear: to increase awareness throughout the world about the ecological crisis, the urgency of the situation, and the extraordinary event that we have perhaps some difficulty in assessing: the presence in Paris of 194 national delegations out of the 200 countries at the UN. That had never been seen before! 
 
She linked up with the encyclical "Laudato Si" by Pope Francis: 
- All is given: Creation is a gift that belongs to all. We must rediscover the sense of gratuitousness. 
- All is linked up: The cry from the earth cannot be separated from the cry of the poor. 
- All is fragile: the earth is fragile, the human being is fragile, life is fragile. It is in fragility that life is generated! 
With Elena Lasida we discovered "ecological conversion", the importance of reviewing our lifestyle, a real spiritual and universal dimension. 
 
A competition: 
To capture the interest of as many persons as possible Marielle, who is responsible for activities in the house, organised a competition over a period of three weeks. Staff and residents organised teams (something that had already been done and which had proved to be very positive). There were lots of notices and large posters, each week a questionnaire with 10 questions was circulated, with a time limit and a box for the replies. The questions and posters came mostly from the COP 21 website. After the third round and the sorting of the replies, the winning team was solemnly acclaimed during the traditional afternoon celebration on the feast of the Epiphany. 
All the teams received a prize, ranging from a calendar to a beautiful album of photos by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. In addition, the members of the winning team were offered a visit to La Villette: an exhibition on "The climate at 360°". 
 
 
Workshops for reflection and the implementation of decisions: 
So as to avoid being left just with ideas and fine words, the time came to go into action. There were workshops where volunteers came with their ideas, and proposals. The ideas came from everywhere: contest the waste of food, review the use of the photocopiers and of paper, be more rigorous in the sorting of waste for the dustbins, have baskets at strategic points for newspapers, magazines, plastic bottles; reduce if possible the hot water that is running everywhere, the open windows that are heating the street and turn off certain lights at night! 
We also noted that some efforts had already been made: e.g. batteries, plastic stoppers, boxes for the newspapers, magazines etc. 
We, in our situation as a care home, are aware of participating in a small way in "the care of our planet"! A way of being fully present to our world today, to its problems, to its seeking and to its future. 
 
 
Something of what participants said: 
 
Patrick V., the head chef: 
" ….. We have it at heart to see that this initiative be continued and that it won’t be forgotten at the end of a few meetings. We have the determination to intervene so as to leave a worthy heritage, clean and healthy, to the coming generations. Let us leave to others what we were able to benefit from and which was bequeathed to us. Nobody feels guilty, but we all feel responsible." 
 
Mireille B., in charge of the Accueil : 
"The high points of this meeting were the interest each one showed in these problems, the energy of the discussions and the will to act. What emerges is that, individually, we can in our daily life do many little things to take care of our planet. We can change our behaviour. Each has a role to play and we don’t have the right to say: ’There’s nothing I can do’. Even being in a care home or working here on the site, we can participate actively for the future of the generations coming after us." 
 
Sr Marie-Annick
 
26/04/2016
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