What images spring to your mind when you hear the word “Village”?
Do you see cobblestone streets and hear the distinctive clip, clop of horses hooves as they transport people and goods throughout their fine village?
Or do images of quaint European buildings oozing history transport you to a time of long ago?
For many, the word “Village” means a tangible place of buildings, shops and people. Within the Village there are professionals, business people and family to whom one can always rely on for help and support. For Mama Maremma, this would be an ideal world. But for Mama Maremma and others who care for a person living with FASD, their “Village”, town or city where they live and the people within it, are often unable to comprehend the effects that FASD has upon an individual and their family, let alone help or support them. But….we all NEED a village!! A village that has people who encourage not discourage; support not criticise; help not judge.
QUESTION: Where is this village?????
ANSWER: It’s wherever you make it!!!!
Mama Maremma’s village doesn’t need buildings or streets or other things made of bricks and mortar. Her Village is made of people…her Villagers. These Villagers however are often camouflaged and to the untrained eye are often difficult to spot. In fact, many of her Villagers are unknowingly part of her Village. Recently, Mama Maremma uncovered one of these Villagers on a visit to the hairdressers. Such is her life, that for many days she had been unable to wash her hair or put a comb through her long tresses. Sudden embarrassment came upon her after being seated in the hair salon and her hairdresser began to comb and prepare her hair for its trim. In an effort to cover up her shame, she blurts out “Here I am with my wild and free hair!”, fully expecting a reprimand on its condition. Instead, an enormous weight was lifted off her shoulders when her hairdresser replied….”And I love it!”. Wow, wow, wow!!!!! Instead of criticism of her self neglect, here was the support Mama Maremma so desperately needed and a NEW Villager!
Another unknowing Villager was recruited after several visits to a local business, where Mama Maremma’s child living with FASD would constantly touch the merchandise out of his constant need to physically feel the product, repeatedly ask for goods to be purchased for him and then upon not receiving the desired answer (that would be the YES answer), would launch into debate about the reasons he absolutely, positively NEEDED the product and how it would make his life ever so much better. Many of Mama Maremma’s previous experiences with business owners, other customers and onlookers, were not always positive, and she would receive uncomfortable glares, snorting sounds and mutters. However, on this particular day the business owner just looked at her and said, “It must be a great help when your husband is home to help.” This was not said in a critical or condescending manner, but instead with warmth and understanding, not so much of FASD, but of the immense attention it requires for her to care for her child each and every day. She was encouraged, not discouraged, by her new Villager.
Often it takes time for a Villager to become part of your Village, which usually is the result of a relationship that slowly builds. Mama Maremma’s librarian is exactly this type of Villager. Over time the librarian has built up a relationship with her child, beginning with a greeting each time and now a regular conversation. There was no judgment from the librarian about the loud voice that is constantly talking, singing and asking questions. Instead, help is provided by taking an interest in this young person who although he has many challenges on so many levels, is valued and treated respectfully.
I encourage you to create your own Village of Villagers near and far.
Encourage, support, help
Understanding, no judgement given
Mama Maremma 2017