From Germany, Nele spent a year as a live-in assistant in L'Arche Highland. In this piece, she reflects on her relationship with core member Hayley, and the diversity and solidarity that she found in L’Arche.          

'One of the first moments that I remember was with Hayley. She is a core member who has her own way of communicating, so it can take quite a while to get to know her. I remember during the first week, I took her to the workshop in a taxi. She shook my hand and said ‘friends’ in sign language. I remember thinking: ‘I’ve only known you for a few days, you have very limited communication, and you already trust me this much that you say I am your friend.’ I think that was one of the first moments that really stayed with me.I was so touched by that.

Living in community, you really get to know everyone and you build intense relationships. The sense of community is great, especially when you come from a different country and you don’t know the people, the country, or the language. Everybody is there for each other and when you arrive here, you immediately have a big social circle of people who are in the same situation as you.

The diversity, but also the solidarity between the assistants, is really amazing. I don’t know where else I would meet so many people from so many different parts of the world and share my life with them. It was such a great opportunity. 

L’Arche is a place for people from all different backgrounds, with different stories, from different countries, and with different abilities. There’s something beautiful that everybody has their own values through their personal experience, but that in the end we all get along. L’Arche is not about separation, it is about unity. It allows you to see that a different approach to life [is possible].'