To increase physical and emotional development, Operation Mercy encourages the many participants we serve to join a peer group, along with one of their family members. By bringing together people with disabilities and their families who have similar diagnoses and ages, peer groups provide encouragement and the knowledge that is needed to thrive not just physically, but also emotionally and relationally. We have seen trust being built in these groups as mothers of children with disabilities and participants find community and a sense of comradery as they do exercises and activities together. Sustainable communities are formed as participants visit each other in their homes and share life together.
Here is a story of one peer group:
Four men with special needs were brought together by Operation Mercy to get to know one another and for encouragement. It took time to get to know each other but slowly they gained each other’s trust when they shared stories from their life and how hard it is to live with a disability. In this peer group the Operation Mercy team facilitated discussions around different topics such as the value and about perseverance they have in their lives. We shared that they have strength, which is shown by their perseverance in doing exercises, despite the difficulties they face. When we started to work with each of these men, they were without hope, but through these discussions and sharing life they started to see how valuable their life is.
This group of four men became eager to meet each other and friendship was formed. Every week they meet with the Operation Mercy team and talk about certain topics like how to look for hope in the most difficult circumstances, how to encourage each other, how to care for each other, how to respect other’s opinions, and how to listen well to each other. Trust is being built and each of them shares deeply about their life. They share feelings and stories that they had not shared with anyone else before.