The Handmaids of Charity and social assistance
The presence of the Handmaids of Charity in the field of social assistance is varied and multiform.
It includes assistance for the elderly, for people with psychiatric problems, immigrants from outside the EU, for the treatment of people with AIDS and assistance in the re-integration into society of ex-prisoners and women who have been saved from a life on the streets. In these fragments of humanity which bear the greatest resemblance to Christ, every service carries the clear imprint of evangelical charity, compassion and human improvement.
The health care assistance residence “Paola Di Rosa” in Capriano del Colle (BS)
On 11th January 1935 in Capriano del Colle, a retirement home for elderly women was opened. It was formerly the summer House of the Di Rosa family. The Sisters succeeded in actualising a project which, with time, has taken on its present day proportions.
Today, the Retirement Home of Capriano del Colle continues the work of assistance as planned by the Superior General of the Congregation, Mother Teresa Pochetti, who decided to allot a wing of the building for the nursery school run by the Sister Handmaids. In this way the children and the elderly women often find themselves together thanks to the different opportunities for meeting which evolve during the day.
The Home now provides residential services catering for 45 guests, of whom 35 are partially dependent and 10 are totally dependent.
The home is for elderly women who need a medium to a high support environment and who are not likely to receive assistance at home for psycho-physical or for social reasons
The guest is received in one of the two active and homogeneous centres based on the indications of the Health Care Director. Thanks to the evaluation of the Internal Operational Unit (UOI) each guest follows a personalised assistance plan and an individualised therapeutic and rehabilitative programme.
This operational unit is an essential part of the organisation. It is a multi-professional team, which meets every week in order to:
draw up the Plans of Assistance;
draw up the Individualised Therapeutic Rehabilitative programmes.
The guests receive:
around- the- clock nursing assistance
a guarantee of geriatric medical assistance at all times including the night, the eve of holidays and during holidays, thanks to an effective medical on-call service
the competent service of a physiotherapist
the presence of a professional educationalist and a coordinator who organises educative entertainment as well as work therapy activities which can contribute to the psychological and physical well – being of the guest
The rehabilitation activities are organised by 2 therapists who alternate their morning and afternoon duty.
Health care assistance in the VILLA DI SALUTE in MOMPIANO (BS)
This House began its activity in 1886. Previously to this, the service was located in the Taglietto area in Castenedolo.
The objective of this initiative was the reception and the treatment of women with psychiatric problems. The particular illnesses of the guests required, not only specific medical treatment but also the availability of large areas both within and outside the house of recovery. For this reason, in the following year (1887), the House catering for the mentally ill, moved to Mompiano, Lama Street, because it was more suitable.
Following the introduction of the law 180/78 ( Basaglia law) which introduced radical changes in the evaluation and treatment of mental illness, and which rejected the idea of a fixed programme of recovery, as well as the continuation of the existing closed structures for the majority of people affected by this type of illness, it was necessary to rethink and to re-organise the activity of the house.
The structure became involved in welcoming and providing assistance for the elderly, in particular those who were not self-sufficient, because they were considered as being the most in need, often being alone or being without their family’s assistance.
The new address brought about the transformation into the Health care assistance Residence.
In 1991 the Paola di Rosa Foundation was formed. It was considered to be the most suitable way of providing help and charity, in complete harmony with the spirit of Paola di Rosa in order to promote “charitable, educational and social activities, particularly in the area of health care assistance.”
Therefore the Foundation, in keeping with the objectives for which it was founded, was entrusted with the running of the Villa di Salute (health Villa).
Its declared aims are as follows:- “The Villa di salute”, social assistance structure , based in Brescia, - Mompiano, 22 Lama street, - puts itself forward to offer geriatric assistance and motor-neuron rehabilitation, according to criteria and ways that are inspired by the principles of christian solidarity and in keeping with regional social-assistance planning. This assistance is for elderly women, partially or completely dependent, provided they do not have any infectious illnesses or mental problems which are incompatible with community life.
CENTRE OF FIRST RECEPTION GABRIELLA HOUSE
Since 1991, after the war in the former Yugoslavia and more precisely in Kosovo, the Congregation have been responsible for the setting-up of “ Gabriella House”.
This was in response to strong pressure from Brescia City Council, to accept the many refugees that arrived in Brescia, in that period. They were children with their mothers, temporarily housed in the City refugee Camp in Sostegno street, coming from countries at war.
The reality, at that precise time in history was that these refugees were an unwelcome presence and they were not well tolerated by the community. Their sheer numbers and the depths of their misery, roaming the length and the breadth of the city, begging for their survival, left much to be desired by the people of Brescia.
It was desired to keep them out of sight.......
It has to be said that the Centre of First Reception was set-up in response to the emergency, in expectation of the time when the situation in Kosovo and the surrounding countries would improve. However, God’s ways are not our ways, and so, day after day, with endless cases of poverty following on from each other, endless streams of immigrants in need of help, with problems heaped upon problems, this house of first reception has celebrated its 14th year of existence.
With unfailing energy it offers “great charity” to a clearly defined group of people, referred to in common social terms as those of “low social standing.”
Furthermore, it should be added that the Centre defines itself as a “house”, with the name of “Gabriella”. Named after a figure dear to the hearts of every Handmaid, because, we know that she was the closest person to Paola(whose religious name was Sr.Maria Crocifissa), in sentiment, in works, in suffering, in sharing, firstly in their outpourings of charity in their giving to the poor, the sick, the marginalised; then in the undertaking of the foundation of the Congregation of the Handmaids of Charity.
In 1997 in the Centre, an organisation of volunteers came into being and called themselves “Gabriella House. Their aim was to improve the continuity and the reliability of the service. The service became available seven days a week and for the past six years provides around the clock service.
How is it all possible? It’s possible because, in addition to the Handmaids of Charity, there is a large body of volunteers (men, women, young people), sensitive to social and christian problems of the fraternity and ever willing to share themselves without cost, day and night, in the house, and on the street, with children and with adults.
The services offered by this Centre of First Reception, direct themselves to the:- socialisation, the basic education of, the preparation of and to the scolastic integration of children and young people. In that way, the immigrant families become aware of and familiar with the use of the public services available in the area.
Together they try to check the precarious situation of many groups, lacking the basic necessities and begrudged their fundamental rights, in order to place them in suitable social contexts. They aim to help, within the limits of possibility, the situations of single women, frustrated and defenceless and trapped in disasterous circumstances, encouraging them, by being with them, to have a sense of moral and physical dignity about themselves.
And so, Gabriella House looks after the severely marginalised. Its door is always open and its heart also, within the limits of possibility, to make the right response at the right time.....
EMMAUS HOUSE onlus
It was opened on 9th September 2004 in Mompiano (Brescia). The idea, to set up this house, was born of the awareness of the emerging and urgent needs of women locked away in prisons and their daily experience.
Once, half of the sentence has been served, the possibility exists for the women to avail of some leave from the prison structure. This leave is considered as a type of prize day(s) or it can also be granted in the facilitating of work experience, for the women.
Often times, the request comes in the form of accommodation, for those who are under house-arrest or for those who are under house-detention.
In other cases, the necessity involves support in terms of housing and work when the sentences have been served.
For that reason, the Congregation of the Handmaids of Charity, responded by making a house available to help in these situations. They also decided to place at the disposition of this work, some of their sisters, who along with qualified personnel and volunteers, look after the entire running of the house.
This house family wishes to be a means, as well as a help, to the single person as they attempt to re-establish some stability in their lives and they try to develop the capacity and the personal ability, by supporting the search for the motivation and values which will bring about an improvement in their living conditions.
We consider, the taking in of people into a positive and appropriate environment, as being fundamental, because it allows for personalised projects, as well as offering the possibility of the experience of, at least a minimum of the security, necessary for the personal growth of people.
We call the house, “Emmaus House” because we are convinced that on this, our path, we are accompanied by the Resurrected One and because we know that in that gesture of the breaking of the bread, together, that we can reach out in love to others, and we ourselves can be reached out to, in love.
The joy of this new initiative nourishes us.
We wish to together, journey towards a possible future, in the certitude of being enveloped in a Love without end, which embraces us all.
Helpers to those in Physical need
There continues to be a great influx of women from Eastern Europe, as well as from Asia and Africa, who all share the urgent need of housing and work. This situation has not gone unnoticed by the Handmaids of Charity who keep close in their hearts the example of their Founder, who used to help poor girls find honest work.
In order to help these women find work, the Congregation has made available, the services of a sister. These women, who belong to different cultures and religions, and who, all too often experience desperate loneliness and misery as a result of being far from their families.
This work, of the sister, has as its aim, not only the search of honest employment for these women, but also to help them experience a type of liberation which, receives its force from faith, from moral teachings and from life itself.
This work, is also aided by some generous people who have lived here for some time and who themselves come from the same countries of origin as these women.
This is a huge advantage, as they share the same language and culture and can therefore, help with a respectful and smooth integration into our society.