In L’Arche communities, people living with intellectual disabilities and those who come to help them share daily life. For over 50 years the experience of L’Arche has been that this shared life promotes solidarity and friendship: the “art” of living together is created by welcoming diversity and human.
At L’Arche, one encounter leads to another…
Jean Vanier met Raphaël Simi and Philippe Seux, two men with intellectual disabilities. They got to know one another, helped each other, and built their lives together day by day. Their example drew in others who also wished to share in the simplicity of community life. Jean Vanier did not “build” L’Arche, but by opening the doors of their home and telling others about his experience with Raphaël and Philippe, he encouraged others to do the same. L’Arche grew naturally as a result of the mutually transformative relationship between people with intellectual disabilities and those who helped them.
An international Federation
Today there are 168 L’Arche communities in 37 countries on 5 continents. They offer homes, workshops, day programs and networks of support depending on the needs of their members and the availability of local resources. The communities partner with professionals to ensure the highest quality of care. They are managed by local non-profit associations, and for the most part financed with public funds or, in the poorest countries, through international solidarity.
Shared daily life
People with intellectual disabilities and the assistants who live with them in L’Arche develop relationships that go beyond helping and working. They build a life together: doing chores, making decisions, reflecting and evaluating, participating in meetings, get-togethers and celebrations – all this with regard for each other, especially for the most vulnerable. Each member is invited to participate fully in community life according to his or her abilities and desires.
A social experiment
People with intellectual disabilities need to participate in society as partners, and not just as recipients of care. Our societies need everyone, including the most vulnerable, to be involved in building a more humane world.