“Proyecto Plenamente Capaces” - Lima, Peru

The “Proyecto Plenamente Capaces” (PPC) of the Christian Fraternity of sick and disabled persons in the diocese of Lima, Peru. ’… A Little Sister, who is first of all a Christian and who, in this capacity, should spend herself for the salvation and good of others, is doubly obliged because she is an apostle by vocation.’ / E. Pernet (Some principles of the spiritual life, V, pg. 21)

In 2012, following the closure of the house in Arequipa, I was invited to join the ’Proyecto Plenamente Capaces’ (Fully Capable Project), a programme for personalised self-realisation. I was greatly encouraged by this part-time work and, at the same time, I had to adapt to the change of community and of mission. 

Getting to know the reality

Every project requires information, knowledge of the beneficiaries (80 handi-capped persons who are members of the Fraternity) and also of the persons with whom the project ’Asocia-ción Sembrando Amor Familiar’ – is carried out. 
The project is financed thanks to the support of Misean Cara and PAL (Ireland), and has as guarantors the Little Sisters of the Assumption. 
The first task was to put in place an executive team, known as the Gabinete Impulsor (GI), which consists of two professionals, three psychology students, four facilitators (fraternistas) and a consultant who has responsibility for drawing up the exercises and training the team to lead the workshops for the participants. 
When the executive team was in place we began the training programme, each workshop consisting of sub-themes that helped the beneficiaries to get to know themselves and to form a project for their personal life. 
For the operation of the workshops we used themes in each module (a sequence of links). As it says in the gospel: ’…get up, pick up your bed and go home’ (Mt 9:6). 
  • 1st Step: ’My life today’ – Personalized diagnosis
  • 2nd Step: ’The life I want to have’ – Dreams and Changes
  • 3rd Step: ’The support I need’ – Support Team
  • 4th Step: ’The steps I am going to take’ – Action Plan. Transfer of the programme to core groups 

Living with the difficulties

  • Because I had not taken part in drawing up the project, it was not easy to understand what had been planned. 
  • The difficulty linked to the fact of not being clear about agree-ments entered into by the Little Sisters before accepting a project. 
  • As the plans for the work were presented at the last moment, this made it difficult to prepare the workshops. 
  • The quest for financial help was not easy, in spite of the interviews with officials of public and private bodies. 

Action on the ground

In each workshop I understood what the project meant; it was enriching for me as a Little Sister to work in a team, with mutual understanding, constant co-ordination, correcting material, the atmosphere of the premises, getting to know one another, joy, trust, etc. 
The accompaniment offered to the facilitators was a growth experience: observing the preparation of the workshops, confidence and command of the theme, joy after completing the sessions. Listening to the fraternistas was moving, with the painful family situation of some and even cases of exclusion from society. 
Getting to know the workplaces of some and the homes of others – as Father Pernet said: ’Her mission is to encounter the poor…’ – encouraging words and I understood there the deep meaning of the Reign of God, in the midst of situations of precariousness and human poverty. 
I feel that I went through this experience with feelings of uncertainty and discouragement and, at the same time, with joy, patience and the hope that I would overcome what was not clear. In the team we supported one another continually so as to help the workshops make progress each month. 

Being a witness to progress

This is what motivated me to be patient and objective in the face of the reality of the handicapped persons – their dreams, their positive advancement, each at his or her own pace, but with enthusiasm and confidence. I was fascinated by the sight of their joy in spite of their handicap; for the majority it is a psychomotor disability. They believe in what is small and invisible to the grandes ; I experienced vividly the sense of the mission to which I have been called. ’The Little Sister lives this love within the ordinary realities of life through compassion, mercy, justice.’ (The Origins of LSA Spirituality, pg. 102) 
I believe in the ability of the person, however insignificant the person seems to be, and in team work, the communion that impels us to live in harmony, and joy that is very important in our life. 
I have learned: 
  • The importance of the support of the LSA community – this after days and hours of work. 
  • The importance of participating in drawing up whatever type of project; this facilitates the knowledge and implementation of that project. 
  • The systemisation of information, something that invites one to celebrate with the life testimonies. 
  • The importance of having a basic professional training that can bring effectiveness to the mission. 
I am convinced that inter-institutional relations open up spaces that make possible fieldwork with vulnerable people and, as we repeat in Chapters and meetings, networking is valuable. 

Personal experiences

Francisco, aged 52: ’The module 2 helped me to see the growth of my circle of acquaintances and helped to improve my life with my family’. He explained that he was greatly motivated by the managerial goals outlined in the final workshop. 
Elmer (20) and Elena said: ’Experiencing these modules gave us personal confidence, and confidence in others, overcoming timidity and acquiring security in our decisions.’ According to what they say, they have acquired ’knowledge of themselves, with their defects and qualities and, especially, their capabilities…’ 
The Little Sisters of the Assumption present in the PPC
Through the presence of Willma Huanca, we felt support and confidence insofar as we were carrying out various activities. An aim of the PPC is that the fraternistas would begin a process of greater self-fulfilment in their lives. 
In the team, in one form or another, we lived out part of the charism of the LSA. ’To work for a world of justice and peace.’ We can see that in our country there are many situations that generate injustices for disabled persons: lack of opportunities, difficulties with regard to accessibility: physical, psychological etc. 
This project seeks to work for the re-establishment of the justice whereby all of us have the same rights… we have been part of the family of the LSA … thank you for giving us this opportunity. How many joys we experienced together, new challenges etc. 
We worked as a team and, as those responsible for the project, we sought to build on our differences, looked for solutions to difficulties; we saw the growth among the fraternistas and we were filled with joy on seeing these changes. We were privileged to see and hear the testimonies of the fraternistas and their relatives. 
Participation in the Psychology congress of the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega University (Nov. 2013) was a new experience that involved speaking in front of more than a hundred students and professionals in the field of psychology, and also social workers. This involved explaining the theoretical framework of the PPC programme, the role of the facilitator and the results we can already see among those who participate in the project. Through the questions of those present we could see the interest and admiration aroused by this project. 
For ourselves, we were a little nervous at the beginning, more secure later and, finally, joyful and emotional because the project had been made known and we had succeeded in having the Fraternity better known in a university setting. 
Thank you, Little Sisters of the Assumption for accompanying us and being with us. 
Mabel, Co-ordinator of the PPC

Journeying with the Fraternity

When the LSA congregation took up the new challenge of working on the ’Fully Capable Project’ with the disabled persons of the Fraternity, we did not think that this would be an enriching human experience providing all-round formation to both organisations. When we started the workshops, the majority of the participants were different but had in common low self-esteem, were introverted and lacked aims and objectives in life. 
As they passed through the Training Workshops (I-II-III and IV) the fraternistas gradually became aware of their possibilities, abilities, tastes, emotions and other important aspects of their lives. For example, to accept that they have rights, that they can love and be loved and that they can be PERSONS before being DISABLED.
Likewise, the discovery of their dreams that can be crystallised insofar as they have responsibility for their own life projects, through personal planning, gives them the possibility and the hope of exchanging a life filled with difficulties with an alternative of very specific acts that direct them to new opportunities and options for a better quality of life. 
In sharing my experience in this process, I cannot fail to express my joy for the miraculous changes in all of them. The expression of conformity and disillusionment they had before has been transformed today into a secure smile; they are prepared to struggle that their own ideals (dreams) may become a reality: managers, opening a business, increasing their income or finding a job. Or, on the other hand, forming a couple, losing weight, improving their health or, quite simply, how to be happy in their family surroundings. All these objectives and dreams of other people I feel to be my own because, living and sharing their hopes with them, they have become mine because I can see before me a community filled with abilities, love and talent that only persons can have. 
Filiberto, Facilitator, eastern zone – Chosica  

The journey continues...

We are still continuing with the great challenge to transmit the sense of personal life, social influence and entry into the labour market. 

’I tell you most solemnly, whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, he will perform even greater works, because I am going to the Father.’ (Jn 14:12). 
Sr Wilma (LSA) 
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