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Dec 27, 2017

Thank you an End of the Year wishes

Learning from an Ark community in Honduras

Ruach’s work is deeply inspired by The Ark (L'Arche), an international organisation that world-wide supports many Ark communities in which people with and without intellectual disabilities live together as a family. Every year we offer the opportunity to two members of our Foundation to visit an Ark community. This year we visited an Ark community in Honduras.

It is 1:30 am. Don Elmer arrives well in time to drive me to Managua. Eva, who works in the activities centre, is also ready. We will go to Managua to catch the 5 am coach to Tegucigalpa in Honduras. We’ve got tickets already. It is a special coach that connects Central American countries.

Gaining practical experience
We’d like to operate our home as an Ark community, but especially our new employees do not know enough about what that entails. Living and participating in an Ark community is of course very enlightening and clarifies what the meaning of the Ark’s mission and vision is. Honduras is the nearest country with an Ark community. This community was founded 40 years ago. Other Ark communities in the region, further afield from Juigalpa, are in Mexico and Haiti.

This year we chose to offer the opportunity of the Honduras trip to two members of staff, (one from the Home and one from the Activities Centre), rather than to members of the Board as we did in previous years. Besides Eva we choose Silvia who unfortunately had an operation at the end of June and was not sufficiently recovered for the long 12-hour coach journey. We then choose Carmen, who was enthusiastic, but could not go because her father was in hospital. Then my number came up!

For a week I was a guest in the Nazareth home while Eva stayed in the Isabel home. We were made to feel very welcome and were free to join in with whatever we were comfortable with. In daytime we joined their activities club. Many of the residents of the home are also participants in the club, but the club was also open to some people from the neighbourhood. We also joined in with a birthday party; the daily celebrations; and a farewell party for one of the employees (Yes, also in Honduras there is staff turnover in the homes). I used a big share of my time talking to those involved with the community, like the Board members, staff of the homes and club, an elder, and the overall coordinator. I came away with a nice list of ideas about what we can do in Nicaragua, or what we need to do additionally or differently.

Taking some distance
Beside that it was very nice to distance myself from my own work, the responsibilities and the daily ‘to do’ list. I needed that after an intensive month of July preparing for moving house and settling in José, our 4th resident. It was also a good test to see how well my son Jonathan would cope with my absence. After our move to Nicaragua in November 2015 he was to my surprise unsettled for quite a while. That was followed by more change after May 2016 with a new move, new house mates, changing staff, etc. That is very demanding for someone with autism who functions best if there is a clear structure and regularity. Add to that that he also has an intellectual disability and consequently understands less of what is going on around him, and you will understand that his task of adjusting feels like a Master’s exam!  

Fortunately the week without me went well which says something positive about Jonathan, but also of the staff who have learned how to respond to him. This also means I will have more leeway to carry out other plans

Nov 15, 2017

an impression of our activities in the last year

At the end of August we celebrated the first anniversary of our Fundacion. It was a happy occasion, the more so because we are very grateful for what we were given to achieve this year. We made progress at our Home, in our Activities Centre, as well as in the society at large where we were able to draw attention to our work, and help people look at people with intellectually disabled persons with different eyes.

Of course this would not have been possible without people like you who have given financial support. We’d love to share with you some mainly photographic impressions of our activities in the past year. Can we count on your continued support? Together we can really make a difference.

 1st anniversary of the Ruach Foundation

 Our overall mission is to contribute to fulfilling the rights of adult intellectually disabled persons in Juigalpa, Nicaragua. Our aim is to create a more human society for all.

 We join forces with various organisations in Juigalpa to further enhance the position of this vulnerable population group.

 The three pillars of our work are prevention, stimulation, and protection.


What was achieved in the first year of our existence?


 We provide information, give advice, coach and create awareness regarding the care , needs and rights of people with a disability, to the general public, and to families who have a child with an intellectual disability.


 - On average 2 persons per month seek advice

 - We gave 3 interviews on local TV-channels

 - We gave 4 |interviews for local radio stations

 - We held a workshop with a church youth group

 - The Foundation increased its visibility by a one-week event in a bookstore
- We sold piñatas in two book shops and in two small neighbourhood shops.

 - We had a stall on a market, at a congress, etc.

  People with an intellectual disability also have talents and deserve their place in society:

                                             «LOOK WITH DIFFERENT EYES »



 Central to this pillar is our community home. In the home 4 adults with an intellectual disability live together with their carers. Three of them have come from very precarious high-risk situations.

 We are inspired by the vision and mission of the international L’Arche (The Ark) community.

 Our vision: Care, stimulation and affection! Celebrate differences and learn from each other!

  Coaching: learning-by-doing (there are no universities that prepare people to work with disabled people) and retreats (once in 3 months).

  With the help of volunteers: (inter)national

  We moved home: an opportunity for growth


 Stimulation: our activities club (talleres)

 Tailor-made programmes for 10 persons with an intellectual disability.; we aim to extend this service. Quality control and setting appropriate targets with parents/relatives of the participants of the activities club. Sale of workshop products (piñatas)and raising awareness in society.


 We are grateful for what we reached in 2017! Therefore, we ………

  •    live up to our slogans: “Unity is power”

                                                  “Help me be who I really am”

  •    renew our effort to be a ‘light’ in the society

             (   because the needs are big and many…..)

  •     continue inviting others to help us:

            if our work inspires more and more people, we will be able to make more progress in contributing to a better  world, not only for intellectually disabled persons, but for every one.

  More information?  visit






Sep 12, 2017

Moving house

In august 2016 we started with our community home. Loyda, Daniel and Jonthan are living with us and the house we rented had place for six beds, so with me and Mayela, there was one bed left.

But last month I wrote about Jose who came to live with us. So the beds were all filled. And still we will give a home to 1 or 2 persons more... So, we decided to look for another house. And a few weeks ago we moved to a new house! Here a short report how the moving-house-day was:

It’s 8:30 a.m. The moving van has arrived. The young men whom we had asked to help us are also in good time. But the carpenter in charge of removing the big cupboards in the bedrooms is late.

Today is the day we will finally move to our new home. In the week leading up to today we have already moved some items using a vehicle belonging to a friend as our new landlady had kindly allowed us to store our belongings in one room in the new house.

There are no removal companies in Juigalpa, so it is up to us to organize everyone ourselves: finding cardboard boxes (not for sale here!), a van, a person who can drive a van, as well as people who can help us lift and lug our belongings. Everything is done with ‘human power’ without the help of machines that can lift heavy items ( e.g. a washing machine, refrigerator or oven) onto the van.

Loyda, Daniel and Jonathan

Also David is in good time. He will collect Daniel, Loyda and Jonathan for the day and together with our staff Carmen and Heydis take them to a small farm to spend a quiet day in nature. They are familiar with the place as they have been there before which increases the level of enjoyment for them. At the end of the afternoon they will be collected from the farm and taken to their new home.

House moving experience

Generally speaking people here do not have a lot of experience in moving house. My survey among our Ruach staff shows that on average people have moved 2 to 3 times. The ideal here is to own your own house, no matter how small and deficient, which encourages people to stay put where they are. Fortunately I’m quite an expert mover. My last move was from Leiden in the Netherlands to Juigalpa nearly two years ago when I had to totally clear out our house of many years. In comparison this move within Juigalpa over a short distance is ‘a piece of cake’.

It was inspiring to see Enyin, Alvaro, Carlos and David at work. They worked hard and were creative in finding solutions. For example, when the carpenter did not manage to move the cupboards from the second floor and was about to cut the cupboards into two pieces, they came to me indignantly and told me this was not necessary and that one of them had a friend who would be well able to do the job by simply dismantling the cupboard.

And so it happened! As the picture shows, in the new house the cupboards were assembled again on the top floor which required some inventiveness. But they got it done!

All is well that ends well

We got delayed by the problem of the cupboards, but by 5 pm everything was moved and most items had found a place in the new home. Of course we had planned beforehand what had to be put where and who would be sleeping where etc. Fortunately nobody had difficulty sleeping in a different environment for the first night!

Daniel and Loyda show little emotion how they experience the move. Jonathan is more expressive as he misses something from the old house and has his tense moments. We are alert to this and try to help him get used to the new circumstances.

The cupboards were assembled the next day. And of course we have been busy ever since putting the dots on the “i’s”, and we’re pleased with the result. We feel at home in our new house!

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