13 Retreat for the differently abled - Fr. George Kannathanam

posted May 9, 2018, 11:18 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 9, 2018, 11:19 AM ]
For the first time ever, a family retreat was organised for the families of the differently abled in Bangalore to provide them internal strength in dealing with their life situations and to create a network of support systems among them. 62 persons (who came from fifteen families) spent two days sharing their life with families with a similar predicament, supported by 25 volunteers. 35 of them were children with disabilities and their siblings.

On April 28 and 29, the Engage Disability network, in partnership with the Archdiocesan Commission for the Differently Abled, conducted a family retreat at Paalana Bhavana, the Bangalore Archdiocese's Pastoral Centre. Engage Disability is a national movement to strengthen the Christian response to disability.

The Bangalore Engage Disability hub comprising of Good Sam Foundation, proVISION ASIA, World Vision, CMAI, AIM India, Project Vision and United Theological College partnered together to bring families on a common platform to give them a time of respite and care. Volunteers from East Parade Malayalam Church and St Patrick's Church helped care for persons with disabilities, while their parents and siblings had a wonderful time to relax and enjoy the company of fellow people with disabilities.

The theme for the retreat was 'Arise and Shine', encouraging the families to take their light and shine into the world. Various sessions were conducted to encourage and walk alongside people touched by disability. On the final day, we celebrated the holy Mass with Fr Arokiaswamy.

Sessions by eminent persons threw light on how the families can cope with their challenging life situations. The group discussions focused on how they could mutually support one another in their life journey.

According to Mr David from Good Samaritan group, "All of us went out feeling different about ourselves from when we came in." The family retreat created a sense of belongingness, and that they are not alone.

Mr Mathew, one of the resource persons, said, "The heroic life stories of the differently abled persons has touched me. I thank God for learning new lessons of life through them."