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A dance breaks down the barriers

A story of Local Response by Luc from the Constellation

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As we arrived at a home for differently abled persons, we were welcome by staff and residents on a sunny and hot day in Mauritius. These residents at the Cheshire Home were adults and at least 6 to 8 of them could express themselves without too many problems. We started the discussion after a short introduction from the visitors. As usual, we were interested to learn about the activities carried out by the group. The residents spoke about their favourite activities that ranged from sewing to cooking to outings that made them feel like normal human beings.

During the conversation, we understood that residents were usually very happy to listen music and even to dance in spite of their disabilities. Music was an additional means for them to express their happiness and joy in being together. Therefore we proposed to listen music with them. One of the residents went to get a CD player and started to play local music. Immediately most of the residents went on stage to dance to the best of their ability. And the same time, some visitors also went on stage to dance with the residents and accompany.

And it seems that the fact that visitors went on stage to dance with the residents gave them the confidence to speak openly and freely.

When the music stopped after a few minutes, the residents started to ask us personal questions. Were we married? How many children did we have? What did we do for a living? They paid special attention to one of the visitors who was also (temporarily) disabled (myself).

When we shared a brief activity with members of a community at the beginning of a visit, we found that the barriers between us came down. It appears that we opened the space for dialogue and connection. We seem to have created confidence and opened the space for more informal and human interaction.

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