ROME, NOV. 15, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The handicapped need to know that they are not condemned to a life alone but can contribute to change the world, says Stefano Capparucci, a member of the Catholic lay Community of Sant’Egidio.
Capparucci was describing the philosophy behind the Friends Movement of the community that works to find ways to best use the talents and gifts of the disabled.
“It is our desire for the disabled to know that their handicap is not significant enough that they can’t help others,” he told ZENIT.
This week, the Friends Movement is sponsoring the second annual exhibit “Children of the World, the World of Children: Work of Disabled Artists,” in the Trastevere district of Rome.
The exhibit, under way through Sunday, features the work of 330 artists from 12 studios around Rome, and is sponsored by the city and numerous other organizations, museums and businesses.
“Some of the artists are unable to speak, but they are able to communicate their world through their painting,” explained Capparucci.
The paintings, artistically framed, revolve around themes such as Africa, Christ’s birth, and families. They range from the abstract, to more traditional styles, including one classic-looking icon of the Blessed Mother and the Child Jesus.
The pieces are for sale and proceeds go directly to the Sant’Egidio DREAM Program (Drug Resources Enhancement against AIDS and Malnutrition) in Africa.
Trattoria degli Amici (Friends Restaurant) is another venture of the Friends Movement.
In the heart of touristy Trastevere, the restaurant blends in with the many other eateries. It provides opportunities for the handicapped, through jobs as support staff, and by featuring the paintings of disabled artists year round.
The restaurant’s wait staff is all-volunteer, with only the chefs and the handicapped employees taking wages. The profits also go directly to the DREAM program.
Not just helping those with disabilities, Capparucci affirmed, “the Friends Movement also explains to people who are a little afraid of the handicapped world: It is not a world of sadness but a world of great joy.”