If you have seen the film about L’Arche, Summer in the Forest, you will have seen the L’Arche Community in Bethlehem and their wonderful felt cribs.
When the Community was founded in 2009 it was decided to create Palestine’s first wool felting shop. Since then, the Ma’an lil-Hayat (Together for Life) Centre has been producing and selling felt goods, handcrafted by community members, to people around the globe. Wool is collected from local shepherds and together the community prepare and treat it, creating, finishing and packaging a range of beautiful felt goods.
As well as producing these products the Community has a full programme of activities that has enriched the lives of the community members, with and without learning disabilities. Each morning they come together in song and prayers that reflect the different faiths and rich diversity of the group.
Together, people with learning disabilities and assistants have taken a product that was previously going to waste and transformed it into something beautiful to share with others.
Since the Community began, assistants have witnessed a rise in the confidence and self-esteem of the people with disabilities. Equally – as with all L’Arche communities around the world – the assistants have also been transformed by their experience. Amal Abu Zulaf, a community assistant at the centre, says: “From the core members we learn about joy, love and humanity. We are gaining more from them than we are [able to] give”.
Follow this link if you want to take a look at the Ma’an lil-Hayat Centre’s online store where you can find felt nativity sets, Christmas tree decorations, and much more.