by Jeremy Chia, Director of Development
This month, we’re highlighting the value of solidarity. There is so much to draw from on this topic, including numerous examples that we can point to. With greater awareness and steady growth in social entrepreneurship and justice platforms, it definitely seems like the practice and value of solidarity through volunteerism and giving campaigns is on this rise.
So how can we contribute to this conversation in a way that is both meaningful and unique to our context? I decided to interview Anders, core member at Angel House, about his trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland in 2017. Anders was invited to represent L’Arche Chicago at the quinquennial gathering of the L’Arche International Federation (154 communities in 38 countries), in order to join organizational planning, learn from, celebrate with and enjoy the presence of community members from around the world.
I hope that you hear, as I did, the elements and heart of solidarity in action. Perhaps this can spur reflection and tangible action steps towards joining with a person, a cause, an organization, in collaborative pursuit of peace and justice?
Question: When did you travel to Belfast?
Anders: June 20-27, 2017. I was there for my birthday. The plane ride was 6hr 55min – I only slept 20 minutes on the way there!
Question: What was one fun thing you did there?
Anders: We attended the Titanic museum for my birthday. I noticed the street life of Belfast. It was crowded and there were lots of people smoking.
Question: Who did you meet?
Anders: I met core members, assistants and community leaders from around the world. We had drinks at the local pubs (I drank coke). I enjoyed meeting everyone.
Question: What does Solidarity mean to you, Anders?
Anders: Being together and sharing our life stories. It’s learning to be together and learning about each other. We did skits of plays with other communities. We meet in groups to talk and share about what life is in community. Also shared about our activities in the community.
Question: What did you learn about other L’Arche communities?
Anders: Some are big and some are small. Belfast community had only one van. One community had only young boys. Australia has several communities – also a gathering in Tasmania (Hobart). There are lots of languages spoken… I met a few people from Japan (thankful there was translation)!
Question: What do you want us to know about L’Arche International?
Anders: We can support other communities around the world because they don’t have the resources like we do. Our Valentine’s Day Brunch (February 17, 2019) raises money to go to L’Arche communities around the world – just like us.
Question: Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your trip?
Anders: On the last night, we had a dance and drinks and snacks. I danced a little bit. It was fun!