Give yourself a chance
Fano | Italy
My name is Rosa, I'm married and I have 3 children, one of whom, the youngest, is 16 and has intellectual disability. – says Rosa Lindi, founder of Equilibri. This requires a certain care, a journey, different from yours, in a world I did not belong to before. Meeting different families with disable children, I saw the tough time they had in managing them. We met in various rehabilitation clinics. While our children were having their therapies we had the time to chat and the things that came out the most were the lack of personal time, overlooking other children, neglecting the partner. I am part of a parish community and an association, Banca del Gratuito [Bank of Free Things]; one evening we discussed what we can do to serve our society and I said: "Why don’t we help these parents?"
That was the beginning of a long, beautiful journey.
I consider myself "lucky" as with my son I was helped in the first place by my husband – in these conditions sometimes it happens that the husband flees away and the mother takes all the boulder – as well as my sister, who lives nearby, and many friends. So I had some time for myself, my husband and the other children. Something the other parents did not have. I proposed to my friends to take charge of the kids one Saturday a month and relieve the parents.
In 2008 the project Stanza dei Figli [the Children’s Room] was born. Since then, every last Saturday of the month Rosa and other volunteers meet in a shelter home with children with disabilities, while their parents have time for themselves from 5 to 10pm.
In these 5 hours we do thousand things with the kids: play, go out, have dinner together. In short, we do anything that can make them feel good. Being together with these kids we realised that they were growing up and we could not keep proposing games. Often people tend to treat them as perpetual children; instead we have seen that they also have resources, sometimes unexpected. A friend of mine is the president of a cooperative that runs the Mercatone Solidale [Solidarity Market] and I tried to see if he could give me a space in their premises to experiment with the kind of work the kids could do. I had seen there a large space with heaps of crockery and glasses. I thought I could make them wash dishes and glasses, see how they manage. Instead my friend told me he had just received a truckload of books from a library which had closed down and he did not know what to do with it. Maybe the kids were able to archive it. I got the green light from parents and we created a sort of project. Each kid would go twice a week for 2 hours in this place to archive the books.
It was a great success. In three months people with disabilities performed their task, some using computers, others manually, each according to their abilities.
It was a beautiful experience. Educators which worked with us were very satisfied. The same for the kids, as they had been tested out and were very motivated. When September came, the deadline we had given ourselves, we looked at each other and wondered if it was really the case to shut it down. I spoke again with the president and he still had no idea what to do with the books.
And that’s how the idea of Equilibri – bookshop with second hand products – was born.
We began fund-raising, starting with organizing a meal at the parish. Together with the kids, we cooked and served lunch for 150 people. This has been very well received by people. The kids were happy because again they showed they could do something. Then, we came out with a thousand ideas: we sold oranges, we organized a Christmas concert, I launched a campaign on a local crowdfunding platform. In short, we worked hard on it. And we managed. Saturday, September the 2nd, we had the inauguration of the shop.
The place is amazing. Full of colours, you can spend hours searching among titles of different kinds of books. Or just do shopping with your little niece, which starts the school year, as Andrea did. But the most beautiful are people who are working there.
We think of it as a normal training position. The two people who work here in the morning are hired by the social cooperative "I Talenti". In addition, we also hired two workers, who are both educators and clerks, who perform a double task. They all come here in the morning, they sell, they archive books. In the afternoon it is managed by Stanza dei Piccoli volunteers.
The aim is not only to provide jobs, but also to change the attitude towards disability.
We would like to pave the way. There are jobs these kids can do. Maybe they need some support. But they can do it. We believe we have given hope to the families, too. Many of these kids tried out, amazed even their parents, who perhaps thought them passive, with no much interest. They were all very good. As for my son… carrying this project forward I realized that my son is not suitable for this type of work. But this interests me little. I want to create a culture with respect to the intellectual disability. This project gave Francesca and Giovanni the chance to work. Maybe my son will come out with other skills and someone else will give him the same opportunity with a different job.
Her son was always Rosa’s main motivation. Both to start the project and to keep going.
When you happen to face such a situation, you have two ways: either let yourself be overwhelmed by it, give in to sorrow, or react. I tried to turn sorrow into opportunity. And this paid me back. A lot. I had the chance to meet beautiful people and do a whole new series of things. I look back and I think that if not for this child probably everything I achieved or plan to do would not have touched me in the slightest.
Every challenge can become an opportunity, helping you turn your dreams into reality.
People think it is hard to make dreams come true. But if you believe in it to the very end... you need to persist, but you will succeed. So many times you may think you won’t make it and instead with a bit of tenacity, persist. Knowing that you have to overcome hard times that inevitably come. Afterwards, when you reach your goal, you are so mesmerized at the achievement that you don’t even think about all the challenges you had to overcome. Just believe in your dreams. And always give yourself a chance. The sun rises for everyone in the morning.
More about Equilibri: facebook.com/equilibrifano