My name is Ophélie (or Fifi for the angels). I’m French and I had the pleasure of living two years at LITTLE EDEN Society, at the Elvira Rota Village. I came back to France in February 2018 and I can tell you that every single day I think about the residents, the angels.
My role at the village evolved through the years. The first year I spent my time individually with the residents. I wanted them to have a one by one relationship with somebody. Together we played, read or did everything they wanted me to do. Sometimes they wanted to write to their family or make some cards for a birthday. I really liked having this time with them: they could talk to me about anything, we had no boundaries so they could tell me anything. Sometimes we talked about the life they wanted, how many kids they wanted, what colour their car would have been (both of us knowing that will never happen) or how they felt about their family if they didn’t see them for a long time.
During this year I was also in charge of the well-being of their feet: this can seem weird but the residents are always together sharing everything, especially the bathroom, and most of them have some skin and nail problems on their feet. So, firstly once a day, then once a week, I went in three sections to allow them to have a foot bath with some specific products. That was quite fun. During the weeks the residents were waiting for their turn. And every day I had the question « when do you do my feet? ». They even help me putting everything in place. The treatment lasted few months for almost a year. I could see some evolution on most of them.
Then in July 2017 two Italian students, Elena and Valentina, spent six weeks at the village. One of them, Elena, was specifically here with the project of opening a school inside LITTLE EDEN Society. That project was quite big and they had few weeks only to put everything together. LITTLE EDEN Society asked me to stay with the two Italians all the time so I could be in charge of this project when they left. With the help of Martha and Patience, already working at LITTLE EDEN Society as Care workers, we continued the school. So every day we had a schedule and we put the residents by groups according to their abilities. From Monday 09:00 to Friday 16:00, we had groups of two to six people. That was amazing and they all wanted to come to school to learn! Everyday some residents were asking us to join the school. Very quickly they asked for homeworks! So, every Friday we gave each group some work to do for Monday. It was quite a challenge for me because I’m not a teacher and that was the first time in my life. But seeing how keen they were to learn pushed me to find new ideas to be more creative about how I could teach them the colours, for example. Martha and Patience were very good and wanted to progress as well. So together we thought about the changes we could make on the timetable or the groups so everybody would have felt comfortable. We had some very good results with some groups. After few weeks some residents were able to recognize colours or numbers or letters and even words. Since February apparently some of them can even read! That’s pretty amazing! Having this responsibility at the beginning was quite difficult for me, but seeing the residents so happy and indulgent, when I was trying something which didn’t work, gave me more confidence and more energy to do better the next day.
I’m not sure exactly what I left there, how people will remember me or if they will, but this experience has kind of changed my life. Before LITTLE EDEN Society I was working as Tour Operator in tourism. Now I’m working with disabled people and I don’t want to get back to tourism. If you haven’t been there, at LITTLE EDEN Society, then you won’t believe me and think that I am overreacting, but these angels are full of joy and full of love all the time. They taught me much more than what I tried to teach them: first, they made me realise how lucky I am to be in good health, to have family and friends. Then, they taught me to be more patient and understanding. They made me understand and realise that relationships are much more important than anything else. Some residents were waiting every single day for a sign from their family. They will give absolutely everything to have a phone call from their family. Sometimes, it was even painful for me to see that they never stop believing that someday they will receive a phone call, even if they haven’t heard anything in years. And then I’m back in my life and how can I complain if I don’t have the flat I wanted or I cannot afford to buy this specific car, when I know that if I press one button I can speak with my family or my friends.
These little angels never complain, they love everybody and they are full of hope. I will never forget them and I don’t want to. They made my life special for two years, during which I was in paradise. If you have the opportunity to go there once, even just for few days, don’t hesitate and go meet with these angels. You will see your life differently after that and it will be even better!
Thank you, LITTLE EDEN Society!