"The Mental Bus" (or something more politically correct)
Every Tuesday a group of mentally challenged individuals come to Mennorode to help out with the gardening/maintenance. One thing I have noticed in regards to this group is that whenever people try to describe them to me they don't really seem as concerned with being politically correct as we do (either that, or they just don't know the politically correct terminology in English and they just assume that terms like 'Invalid' are perfectly acceptable). But as I was saying, last week I was talking to the fellow who is usually in charge of them and I found out that this was actually a program not only to make them feel like contributing members of society, but also to help bring the ones who could improve to a level where they would actually become employable outside of this particular group setting. There was one person in the group whom I particularly thought should already be at that level, but I didn't want to say anything just in case there was a reason he was still around that I wasn't aware of (like he enjoyed the group or thought highly enough of the program to help out with the slower group even though he seemed fully capable of handling a job on his own, I tend to think optimistically for the most part). But from what I could gather He is functioning at a pretty decent level. I mean he was able to speak English to me, which tells me he probably doesn't have as many difficulties learning as others might because being bilingual isn't exactly one of the easiest things from what I've gathered in my own attempts... especially going from Dutch to English... I mean Dutch to French or German at least have similarities in regards to grammar... but English just seems like such a confusing language to find similarities in. He also didn't appear to have any real physical disabilities, which leads me to believe that his condition is probably something more socially oriented like Asperger's Syndrome. Either way, he was an interesting fellow and seemed like a really good guy. Everyone else however didn't have quite the same abilities to speak English... some of them were able to ask basic questions like how I was enjoying the work, but nothing that could really lead into a semi-meaningful discussion. And there's one fellow who I have yet to hear utter a single word. Occasionally he makes some gestures which I used to think was just him playing Air Guitar, but considering how intent the leaders are to keep his hands in his pockets I'm beginning to think his gestures are a bit less innocent than I'd like to imagine. Even tough I was really only able to actually converse with one of the individuals it seemed like a very good program and they all seemed very nice and happy to be working there (even if they do creep some of the staff out every now and then). I'm interested in seeing how else this culture deals with the mentally challenged as everything I have seen so far has been quite optimistic.