I arrived in Kyle in early September 2012. It was a sunny day and so was my whole first week. Very unusual for Ireland I was told. My first impression of this lovely place was overwhelming and confusing. Everyone was very excited to see me. Everyone told me the name and everyone wanted to know about my journey, where I am from and how long I would stay. At the end of this first marathon through the Community I didn't know most of the names, didn't know the names of all the houses and places. But I did know, I clearly remember, that I liked it, that I felt like this could be a place to be and live for a while and even longer.
I was glad that everybody understood my feelings (because everybody went through this first confusion too) and I could start to get to know all the different people with their needs and, of course, the routine of daily life in Kyle.
Living in Kyle is a very intense experience. It is always something going on: preparation for festival days, the open day, birthday- and farewellparties, new people coming, old people leaving, the beautiful garden, the pottery, the farm, a broken Aga here (you will find out about the magic Aga) or a missing cat there.
It sounds like a lot of stress for most people but it is the fundament on which everything else is build. It makes you understand to live and work with people together in a way everybody contributes as much as he can and the way he can.
I will explain:
It may be 'harvesting parsnips' together or writing nametags for the famous "friends' meal" until the middle of the night, cutting masses of onions for the Open Day with the world's best onion cutter (you will get to know her) or just sharing the dish wash after lunch making a competition out of it. I could go on forever listing all my memories of beautiful moments spend together with people of different nationalities and age, different characters and abilities.
Despite of all these differences, or maybe because of them, I felt a sense of community in Kyle, especially in rough times. I had never experienced this before and I would not want to miss it.
My friends and family always asked what I was doing during my stay in Kyle. It was not an easy question. What did I do?
The time went so fast that sometimes in the evening I could not even remember what I was doing in the morning, but as I mentioned already: There was always something to do.
Looking at this way of life now, retrospectively, I realise how committed I was and still am in a positive way. I made very good and still close friends and climbed over a lot of metaphorical obstacles (some seemed so unclimbable in the beginning!!).
Of course it was not always easy. It meant to get up early in the morning to make sure Maria was up for breakfast and ideally on time. It could also mean to skip the eagerly anticipated nap after lunch to play some kind of Tetris with her and her cupboard. Sometimes it meant to stay up late to make sure Emma went to bed after a trip to Waterford.
But personally speaking, it was worth every little moment of effort. Mostly in situations one expected it the least and needed it the most, there came regard. It may be a "Thank you", a smile, a hug, a joke, inspiring words, a song or the moment you realise that complete strangers became friends.
I was really impressed by the people in Care, who have lived in Kyle for a long while now, and who still care so much about every Coworker coming to work and support there. I did not have much experience with working with people with special needs when I came and I was surprised how the line between "able" and "disable" became blurry and disappeared after getting to know the character of each one of them. It was and still is a wonderful experience. It was very hard for me to leave and I am sure I will come back and visit someday!