Room For Individuality

Emma and her guide dog visit the Darvell Bruderhof

Video transcript:

I’m Emma. I live in Bedfordshire and work in education.

We first came to the Bruderhof because my husband had met some of them and they invited him to visit. So we both came along with my first guide dog. This is Gus; he’s my second guide dog. I’m registered blind.

I think we’ve been coming two to three times a year for about four years now. The first time we came to Darvell Bruderhof it was just to meet people. But since then, we’ve been coming to see friends; it’s literally been just like visiting family. When we first came, we were just learning about the community. We went into the elementary school and I talked to the students about guide dogs and they got to experience what working dogs were like. So our first few visits were more about just learning about the Bruderhof. Now we come because they’re our family. We had a couple come and live with us for a few months, which was amazing.

I remember thinking I couldn’t ever live here because everyone looks the same. From a visually-impaired person’s point of view, I’ve found it really hard that the women all wear long skirts and very similar colors. But then I had a long conversation with one of the women who taught me about the individuality within all of that and she showed me that there’s different colors of headscarves and different ways they tie them; there are different patterns and colors of skirts. And actually when I got told all of that, I realized how there’s a lot of individuality within it. I think sometimes it’s easier as an outsider to see the similarity and think there isn’t any individuality in it, but there absolutely is.

I have also learned a lot about their willingness to support people. So for example, there’s always someone on hand to take me everywhere. They do the same for the elderly; they do that for the sick. There are children with disabilities here and the way that they think so quickly about all the needs of those people and put whatever help they need into place is pretty outstanding. Nothing compares to that on the outside of the community in terms of the support that is available.

I’d say the aspect of living in community I never fully understood until we lived alongside these people is that they put the needs of their community above their own needs, which is something that we don’t do. So whatever they’re doing, they think about everyone else. They think about their community but also the wider community. They go and do a lot of volunteer work outside of their specific communities and also within their local towns and villages that they live in.

Go and experience it and take wellies because you absolutely are going to be thrown into whatever the community is doing. They’re very outdoor-focused and have beautiful woods and grounds. You will be exhausted when you’ve finished because there’ll be so much to do, but you’ll leave with a smile on your face and feel very blessed by it.

Come visit!

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