Making Friends

A simple greeting generates a story of community between neighbours with common interests.

Foreword: Markus Vähälä

Plena inclusion is working to create opportunities for people with support needs to live in communities around Spain, so we all need to share stories showing how it happens. To live in a community is good, to get friends and to feel a true part of the community is even better. Every person has dreams, desires and interests and these link us together. We need places, spaces and support from each other to create opportunities for people to meet and get to know each other.

The more we know the more we can create trust and understanding — developing a caring community and care in community. That is what Citizen Network and Plena inclusion are working on together as strategic partners and it’s a journey that we invite all of you to join. 

What kind of story would you like to share? 

Let’s read what happened to Alfonso, Alicia, Carmen and Antonio.

Author: Vivienda AFAS Garcilaso

A bond is born when people relate to each other and find something in common that makes them feel empathy for each other. There are friendships that are born within minutes and others that take years to develop. People with disabilities need the same opportunities to nurture friendships through everyday actions and to do so they must be able to live in their local community and feel part of it.

One ordinary day; Carmen and Antonio are at the bus stop, and the see a man reading a book with his head down. As he gets on the bus, Antonio says to the man: “Goodbye Mr Priest.” and, the man turns and says goodbye.

The next day at the same time the man passes by the bus stop, reading his book. Carmen and Antonio greet him again.

Alfonso introduces himself and senses that they are interested in religion and he gives them some pictures of saints. And, then every time he meets them at the bus stop, Alfonso gives them pictures and Carmen and Antonio keep these pictures in their room.

Alfonso is always punctual and passes by the same place at the same time, but if Carmen and Antonio are a minute late they don't see Alfonso. They miss Alfonso a few times and Carmen wants to see him.  So after lots of research and help from their supporters, Carmen and Antomio find Alfonso and invite him to join them for coffee at their house. 

Unfortunately, Alfonso can't make the appointment and for several days and with changing bus schedules, they can't find Alfonso. Finally, after searching on social networks they manage to get in touch with Alfonso and they arrange to meet up in a bar for a beer and a chat.

When they meet, Alfonso introduces his wife Alicia, and Carmen and Antonio discover that Alfonso loves history and philosophy. Alfonso is a book publisher and has travelled all over the world giving conferences and talks, and has even written a book with other writers from Tomelloso in Castile-La Mancha. He also loves animals and he and his wife have had 18 dogs and cats.

Antonio tells them that he is a painter and invites them to view his exhibition in March. And Carmen tells them that she is afraid of dogs but that she really likes cats. The funniest thing of all is that Alfonso and Antonio both lived in the same neighbourhood of San Antonio when they were young, so they know the same places and attended the same church.

Carmen chats with Alicia and discovers that she is from Zaragoza and, by coincidence, Carmen loves the story of Our Lady of the Pillar (Patroness of Aragon and its capital Zaragoza), so Alicia promises to bring her a picture of the Virgin.

After almost 2 hours of conversation, Alfonso and Alicia invite Carmen and Antonio to visit their house one day to see the animals. Alfonso and Alicia give Carmen and Antonio a copy of the book that Alfonso has written and everyone says goodbye, hoping to meet again. 

This story has been shared in Spanish on the Mi Casa website here

If you would like to know more about the Mi Casa project please get in touch with Markus.

Article | 15.03.24

community, Inclusion, Self-Directed Support, Spain, Article

Markus Vähälä


CEO Citizen Network Coop

Markus Vähälä


CEO Citizen Network Coop

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