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Fundación Arca Mundial – Curative education in a city of millions

Columbia: The Fundacíon Arca Mundial in Medellín, a home for handicapped people, has been in existence since 1997. There, 38 people between the ages of 1 ½ and 28 years of age have the opportunity to learn and to gain abilities such as weaving, baking and carpentry. There are three groups, so that the different needs of the different age groups can better be fulfilled. There is a group for the smaller children until the age of seven, another for the 8 to 12/13 year olds and another for the teenagers and adults.

Usually the Fundacíon closes its doors in the evenings when everyone has gone home, but once a year everything is different! The doors are not locked and nobody goes home, because it’s Piyamada, a celebration that traditionally takes place on the last weekend before the holidays. Then it is time to play games, go on excursions, take part in sporting competitions and, last but not least, dance.

The celebrations at the Fundacíon Arca Mundial not only mark special moments in the stream of daily life, but also reveal the immense commitment of the co-workers. They use their free time to prepare birthday parties or other celebrations. It is important to them, that in additions to an education or training, the handicapped people live in an environment in which their worth as human beings is recognized.

Around 1997, when the Columbian authorities decided to close down the schools for the handicapped and integrate them into the ordinary schools, a circle of friends around the married couple Juan Guillermo Restrepo Florez and Sandra Domínguez, handicapped children, teenagers and adults in the anthroposophical centre “Micael”. Due to the fact that the schools often refused to accept handicapped children, this project came into being with the goal of offering handicapped people a holistic education.

With help from a foundation which was founded in 2000 and the Friends of Waldorf Education a property was bought in 2002. Today there is a house there in which classrooms, a carpentry workshop, a weaving room, a bakery, a kitchen and a workshop for car repair are to be found.

People from all social classes come to the Fundacíon Arca Mundial, but only eight families can afford to pay the full monthly fee of 560.000 $ (approx. 185 euro), which means that the continued existence of Fundacíon Arca Mundial can only be secured by donations. The Colombian government approves of the project, but doesn’t provide any financial support whatsoever.

Despite the great difficulties, the conviction and devotion of the co-workers remains unbroken and they are planning further workshops and extensions to the project so that the organization can become independent sometime in the future.

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