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The Family Home


 
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The Family Home

 

In 1990 the Community of Sant'Egidio in Rome opened a"Petite Soeur Magdeleine," a Family Home for young people. From the beginning, it was conceived of as a real family, in which two "mothers" live with ten children, supported by an "extended family" of friends who help the children study, organise parties and outings, and help them to grow up happily.

 

The whole design of the house is meant to respond to the needs of children and adolescents. In a large room full of toys, there are board-walls which the children can draw on. There is common space where they can spend time with friends or watch television. On the second floor, each child has his or her own bedroom. The adolescents have space reserved for them in a separate wing of the house, giving them the relative autonomy they crave.

 

The children and teen-agers who live here invariably bring histories of family strife and abandonment. Some were recommended to the Family Home by the Juvenile Court or a social service agency; others came from hospitals, because they were disabled or ill (sometimes with AIDS). In the Family Home, they have found not only a new home but a welcoming family, which has helped them to overcome their troubled past.


How Did it Start?

 

Over the years, we have often met children and adolescents living in trying - children removed from their families and placed in institutions, for example. We came to see that supporting them "from the outside" would never be enough; at the same time, we understood that, unfortunately, these children did need to be separated from their families and put into care. We saw a real need for an environment that could provide such children with all of their needs. Our Family Home is intended to be just this: a welcoming place for young people where the children might find their wounds healed and gain the strength they will need to face the future.

 

Although the children in the Family Home live as in a family, the Home is not meant to substitute for their own family. Many children and adolescents, in fact, have left our Home to be happily adopted or taken in by foster parents. The Community has also helped, when possible, to improve family situations so that the children might return to their natural parents.

 

The Family Home is not an institution, not a shelter or way station; it is a harmonious environment, created specifically for children or adolescents, that takes on their care and helps them to grow and to have a better future.

The Youngest


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