France A competition as a unifying activity …

Could one imagine such creativity among those aged over 80 who constitute what is known as ‘old age’?

Nevertheless, that is what made possible the competition for cribs organised by the Association ‘‘Chemins d’Espérance’’ among its different establishments.

 The aim was to initiate times of sharing and union within each establishment through a significant activity. 
Sixteen among them were mobilised and ideas of all kinds surged up that used the most varied, but very ecological, materials to put them into effect: wood – moss – cardboard – snail shells – clay or paste – felt, etc…

 The reflection among all, or some, of the members of the establishment, the search for the meaning of Christmas today, in the place where we live, with openness to the world, the imaginative resources of different persons, the putting in common of all kinds of talents, some being revealed for the first time – all of this constituted a first phase. Then, the hands, sometimes deformed by arthritis, courageously undertook to cut out, model, sew, put together, build – in order to construct THE 2016 CRIB.
There were also the practices for those who formed a tableau vivant. 
And there were certainly at least 500 persons, between residents of the homes, the staff, families and friends, who gave their time. 
The result was astonishing and delightful … 
The prizes, which were awarded, took four aspects into account: the crib that best reflected the values of “Chemins d’Espérance” (welcome, hope, sharing, solidarity), the one that was the most spiritual or the most original or the most artístic.
But, how is it possible to judge a competition between establishments situated all over France? 
Each of them was to present a video, three minutes maximum, and an album of fifteen photos, the whole displaying the crib and retracing its conception throughout the different stages. 
Thus, the jury, which met on the 20th of December, discovered, admired and evaluated the fruits of a participation in which some persons worked with real passion, and many strengthened their sense of belonging to an establishment, the colours of which they defended, while at the same time highlighting the distinctive values of the Association. 
 Awarding the prizes: 
The 1st general prize was for Grenelle (Paris 15) – a crib for today: Jesus is born under a bridge. The Good News of this event is announced by the angels to the homeless, and the Magi are represented by volunteers bringing soup, bread and coffee.
 Ornamental white clay figures, made for the occasion, show both the solitude of those who ignore others, and various occasions for relations at all ages, affirming that Jesus, light of the world, is already there in listening, in attention to the other, respect for creation, service to the homeless, in our establishment for aged and dependent persons, and that he comes again every Christmas “to encourage us to light up, there where we are living, the values of welcome, of sharing, of solidarity. It is, and will be, our Hope.” 
The visitors of all ages, because the Christmas period often includes a family visit to those who are in the Care Home, appreciate a crib that has meaning for their life today. The mobile phones are quickly taken out to keep a souvenir of it or to show it to others. 
The Crèche vivante by Amitié Partage (París) received the second general prize. It had brought together some twenty figures, of all ages or functions in the institution, beautifully dressed. 
The joint preparation with other residents and staff members, the joy they showed in it – all that witnessed to what the competition had helped them to experience together with regard to the values of ‘Chemins d’Espérance.
It was La Chaume, the EHPAD at Issoudun, that obtained the 3rd prize, with, in addition, the 1st prize for originality: would you have thought of using snail shells as the basis for your figures? 
It is diffícult to describe each crib but I will mention the two other EHPAD where there are LSA: the second prize for originality went to Villerest and the third prize for spirituality to Ollioules. 
In announcing the prize list, the Director of Chemins d’Espérance, Mr. J.B. Prim, expressed his emotion in the face of the joy that was being shared and the commitment displayed in relation to the competition. He emphasized the mobilization of the establishments, the generosity of the teams, the spirit of the residents and the communities, all of which is already a little miracle for today. But what gave him most pleasure was that it had been done all together, by all the teams of Chemins d’Espérance, because success, he said, is even more beautiful in the establishments when all the services and all the professions, work together and as a team. 
Marie-Claire Debionne LSA
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