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Proyecto Meulen in Buenos Aires

Argentina: In 2002 the institution for curative education Meulén was founded. Out of a spare-time-care, the initiative quickly developed into a full-day institution with training and workshop facilities. A total number of 25 people with disabilities are being trained and supported through a variety of art-courses. Furthermore it is a concern to all staff members to help those in need to gain as much autonomy as possible.

Having been beaten by her mother and abused by her mother’s boyfriend, then beaten up by the alcohol-addicted husband of her Grandmother, the young woman had to go through one horror scenario after another, until she was finally able to move to her aunt, where she got in touch with project Meulén. There she came across other young people of whom a lot had also gone through many painful years.

The siblings of another woman did not wish to be in contact with their sister due to her disability. Thus she was left alone when her mother was killed in a blast at the Embassy of Israel. Stories like that can be told by nearly all of the people in the initiative Meulén, stories of how each of them experienced that he or she was not welcome in society. Therefore it does not come as a surprise that the exaltation was huge when the initiative was opened in 2002 and the wish was stated that Meulén should be developed into a full-day-care institution.

Today’s training and workshop facilities are situated on a compound of a respectable 800 square-metres in size. As it belongs to the neighbour, who himself is a father of two disabled children, the compound is available for the institution on a cost-free basis. In the environment where Meulén initiative is located, poverty, negligence, criminality and drug problems clash and just a few relatives of the disabled are able to pay for the initiative. Thus it remains difficult to cover basic expenses in order to continue the daily schooling. On the other hand various family- and social backgrounds mix in the workshop as the disabled come together for their training- and artistic activities.

The training facilities include a bakery, a nursery, a carpenter’s shop and a pottery as well as possibility to train people in restoring pieces of furniture. In the art studio there is space for theatre- and music projects as well as plastic coating and Dance. These artistic elements complete the workday of the people being trained and working in Meulén. Another very important part of the routine is the regular practicing of daily requirements such as shopping, cooking, and dishwashing as well as reading, writing, gymnastics and sports. In the meantime even a pilot concept for an apartment-sharing community has been developed, which is considered the beginning of a later residential home. Start of construction is planned for 2011.

Focusing on the years having passed since the beginning of Meulén initiative, one can clearly see a path of progress, on which the initiative has developed from an idea to a powerful institution. It is considered as an important alternative to Argentina’s educational system, as it successfully supports people with disabilities in finding their place in society.

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