Saturday, February 21, 2015
Dreaming An Impossible Dream
A diocesan priest relates his experience in trying something new with the community welfare center that was entrusted to him to manage. The city and the board of examiners' vision for the center was a home for the handicapped and non-handicapped living together without discrimination. This is the motto that is used with the community welfare centers that are established, but in fact there is little difference in the way they are run. Each facility has a way of expressing their special work.
During the latter part of last year the staff of the community center began to think about its direction, and programs that needed to be implemented. They met with some volunteers from the area, and decided to begin a musical ensemble with the handicapped and non-handicapped. They made plans for the new year and assembled a group with 17 youths who are mentally handicapped and 20 who are not handicapped to make up the musical ensemble.
In his article in a pastoral bulletin, the priest admits that many will see it as an unrealistic dream that will not go far. The members of the staff see it as a dream that will go on for ten years. Music as the medium, they hope will allow the interaction among the young people that will have an impact on the city and the families of the handicapped.The handicapped will make friends with the non-handicapped who will, in turn, be learning some new values.
This November they are aiming to have the inaugural performance of the ensemble. They have already met as a group on three occasions, and private lessons have begun. Each week they will have a meal together after practice. At this time each of the teachers will express their hopes for the group very circumspectly.
They are already thinking of the invitations they will be getting to perform in different parts of the country. However, not all has been without problems. One mother didn't like the idea of her son practicing with the handicapped, considering that her son was being asked to serve and sacrifice for the handicapped. This caused some ill feeling among the mothers. Changing thinking is not easy.
Not all was negative for he saw on one occasion where one child sat down by the side of a handicapped child and began helping him. In the beginning there was some hesitation but they both began reacting with each other as friends. The teachers and mothers were greatly pleased with what they saw.
The priest himself has bought a cello and will join the group.His desire is to regain the heart of a child. He has no idea how this will work out, but hopes for the best. No matter what, he feels that the encouragement it will give the families of the handicapped, in this unfriendly environment, is worth all the trouble and has great meaning.