By Amanda Murthy
“Everyone in this world has something to offer.”
“If only we open our hearts and welcome all relationships, we will be able to be with people rather than for people.”
Those were the words of National L’Arche Leader Dr David Treanor, who has dedicated his mission to the creation and growth of homes, programs, and support networks with people who have intellectual disabilities varying from children to adults who are affiliated with L’Arche until death.
The organisation name was inspired by Noah’s Ark, was founded by Catholic philosopher, theologian and Templeton prize recipient Jean Vanier in 1964. It has grown to be a worldwide federation of over 147 communities for those living with disability across over 35 countries.
Speaking to The Record during his recent visit to Perth, Mr Treanor cited that working with L’Arche has not only opened his eyes to see the needs of each community he visits, but has thought him some important life-lessons he will always cherish.
One of the most apparent gaps Mr Treanor said which lacks in our society today is loneliness.
“I think that loneliness in general is a feature of our western society and culture,” he said.
“Society tells you that people living with the experience of disability will be fixed with a funding package but we all know that money does not buy happiness.”
One of the episodes from the L’Arche You Tube series titled As I Am on Katherine Black from L’Arche Hobart revealed research statistics that 84 per cent of people with core activity limitations haven’t received a visit from friends or family in three months.
“A further 59 per cent had not received a phone call in three months, and 18 per cent had no social contact with another human being outside their caretakers.”
This, Mr Treanor said is why he hopes the L’Arche Welcome Home established in August 2017 in Perth will inspire more locals to spend time at the house on the weekends, even if it is just to share a meal, attend a local community gathering or join in for prayer nights.
The Welcome Home is currently looking for a Committee Leader to live in the house full time, as well as volunteers to visit on a weekly basis. Mr Treanor said he hopes the house could commence by March next year.
“The statistics above are a sad reality that we need to spend more time with those who need us most, however just like any friendship, I can say through my own experience, that my friends who live with the experience of disability have helped me just as much or more than I have helped them.
Recalling his favourite memory forged during his first posting to L’Arche Hobart, Mr Treanor said he never knew how learning a simple lesson from his then fellow housemate Sean would make a huge impact in his life.
“Sean was always a positive person, and he would never fail to say thank you to everyone around him – Through his actions, he made me realise that I had up until then never say thank you to anyone in my life,” Mr Treanor said.
“If not for Sean, I would have never have realised the importance of having gratitude and showing it to those around me.”
Mr Treanor who champions the Church’s stance on Euthanasia, said that medical practitioners should not be burdened with the responsibility of making quick decisions under pressure in an over-stretched healthcare system, especially in a matter of life or death.
This is particularly sensitive in the context of a person with disability who is not equipped with the cognitive skills and functional impairment.
“Most people with the living experience of disabilities are not employed in a high paying role, some even unemployed. They are not involved in a “meaningful valued roles” in society.
“Therefore, if the law is passed and a situation was to arise surrounding euthanasia, who will advocate for them to say their life is important to society?”
Mr Treanor the government could instead focus on channelling more resources in the healthcare system to employ more doctors, medical practitioners under palliative care would allow people to die with dignity rather than decisions.
“There may be pain, but eliminating a person is not the way to go – instead inviting people with friendship in celebration, because that is truly when God is present.”
Those who wish to learn more about, volunteer or live in a community in Australia or around the world, visit L’Arche Australia by Clicking Here
For link to the As I Am You Tube series, Click Here