Abou Dis

Everybody togetherEverybody togetherBernadette and CatherineBernadette and Catherine

Bernadette Michelle writes:

Since we arrived in Abou Dis, early this year, Maria Verena and myself have been working at the home for elderly people, five days a week, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. As a salary, we get board and meals. We live at the bottom of the garden in a small house, five minutes from our workplace. At 7am each one of us helps two or three residents to wash then everybody meets in the dining room for breakfast. There are about 50 residents, men and women, Moslems and Christians. I help Catherine, a blind and deaf centenarian, to eat. We help to serve everybody and then to clean up. Then Maria Verena attends to their dressings. At 9 am there is a Mass in the Church which about 15 residents attend, most of them in wheelchairs. We lead the singing in Arabic and take it in turns with Salwa, a resident, to  read the Epistle.

Helped by the volunteers, many who come from France just for a month, we organise various activities: A few exercises, ball games, painting or playing dominoes.... I take Therese who has Alzheimer's with others, for a tour of the garden. We admire the Bengalis and the Canaris in a cage and also our friends, two Guinea pigs. We like to go to the statue of the Virgin to greet Mary and entrust to her care everyone in the Home and to pray for peace in the world.

Maria Verena and AlbertMaria Verena and Albert

Recently, we planned a Christmas workshop. We made stars, candles and glued fir branches on coloured paper.

Every three months, we celebrate birthdays. The day before, we bake together.  We prepare cakes by tables of five or six. One of the residents measures the flour, another one breaks the eggs,another one does the mixing. Torres cuts the fruit. The next day, we decorate the dining room and at the end of the meal, we bring in the cakes decorated with candles. Each of those celebrating their birthday receives a small gift. We sing and dance, accompanied by music and the derbake. We also like to do hand massage, a means to communicate attentive care and interest in the other. We see that there is real affection among the residents A very beautiful smile, a little gesture of affection can mean so much. We are both happy and thankful to be here and involved in this work which is so deeply human.

Maria Verena and  Sr Marie du CalvaireMaria Verena and Sr Marie du Calvaire

Maria Verena writes:

I thank the Lord for enabling me to be here and to work among these elderly people. All are Jesus' friends, the sick, the paralyzed and the deaf, the lost and the forgotten, and I try to be a little sign of God's tenderness.  I find that it is not only what I do for them which is important - the employees do their work well - but it's incredible all that a little gesture, a caress to the one who cannot see, a smile to the one who complains constantly, an attentive ear to the one who keeps repeating the same thing, can calm a worry, a hidden wound. There are several people who are here because they are alone in life or because they have been abandoned or the family can no longer take care of them when their Alzheimer's gets worse. It is important to show them that we love them and that they are not alone, that they are important to us.

Maria Verena at workMaria Verena at work