Peru - United we will be stronger!

A support group for the mothers of children with different abilities

"We are sent to the poor, our option for them is a grace of the foundation.."
Three years ago we began this mutual support group of mothers who have children with different abilities. My mission as a Little Sister is being confirmed in the process I experience with these courageous women of unshakeable hope. With them I experience the love of God who saves in weakness and in poverty, as Etienne Pernet and Antoinette Fage noted in the course of their own lives. The group consists of seven women, brought together by the same reality. 
All of them have one or two children with a physical or neurological handicap and they live in the district where our community is. After visiting one or other of them, seeking with them some care alternatives as a response to their children’s reality, we saw that the first help would be that they realised they are not alone and that experiencing similar situations makes them stronger in the face of adversity. So, we begin to meet together and ended by meeting once a month at which each one in turn recounts what her children are experiencing, and gets information about other families that are in a similar situation and who might be visited. There is also time set aside to listen together to a Gospel scene and in this we receive light for one’s life. 
This monthly meeting has led to gatherings at other times during the year, to celebrate, to offer a time of joy, amusement, outings, friendly exchanges. The life of the group has also been enriched by participation in some events organised by the Fraternity of infirm and handicapped persons (FRATER). This has confirmed us in our belief that it is possible to be in communion with those who live in the world of "different abilities".
What we are seeking to do in the group is to promote a better quality of life for these children and for their families. We wish to contribute what is necessary for their integration within society, developing areas for improving their skills, mutual help, attention to their needs which are so often disregarded because of poverty, lack of affection and the deficiencies of the country’s health system. 
Let us hear the testimonies of three mothers who form part of the group: 
"My son is a treasure that God has sent to my home. I also feel I am a "special mother", called by God to live with humility, patience and generous service to those who live in situations similar to those we have in our family." 
"I had spent a long time overprotecting my daughter and, thanks to my participation in the group, I came to understand that by acting in such a way I was not helping her to develop. I began to listen more to my other children and to include her in the various household tasks. With the other mothers of the group we are overcoming our solitude and helping our children to be more independent." 
"For all of us, my son is like the motor that is helping us to move ahead. It is thanks to him that we find the strength to carry on as a family." 
Let us listen also to one of the teenagers whom I visit as part of the group’s mission. Like his two older brothers, who are dead, he suffers from muscular dystrophy and is aware of the progress of his condition: 
"First of all, my illness is not a punishment. Quite the contrary! For me it is a blessing. During the first years of my illness I felt different to everybody else but, on feeling the love of God and talking with Sister Isabel, I saw things in a different way. I understood that the love of God is to be found closer to me than I thought: in the love of my parents and in the marvellous family I have, because they love me very much and see me as a happy boy. With them I feel like a normal person. I believe that God is sending me into the world for a reason: so that those who suffer from some infirmity, when they see me, may find hope and realise that even if one is like that, it is possible to live with joy.’ 
For me as a Little Sister of the Assumption, the sharing with these women and their children has increased my faith. There is no bitterness in them; indeed there is always a smile, the expression of their joy in sharing their children’s pranks, going beyond their handicaps. These are children who have speech difficulties, many of them do not walk, cannot eat on their own etc. The mothers look after them completely and do so with great devotedness and love. 
I give thanks to God and the Congregation for giving me this opportunity to live and work among the poorest and most forgotten of our society. 
Isabel, Little Sister of the Assumption
Saint Martin Community, Lima (Peru)
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