Part five in a five part series about the Janisch family…

“What is it like to live and grow up in a Camphill community with special needs children your whole life?” Many people have asked me this question. I thought about it and I realized that it is light and happiness all around you. It is amazement and joy. And it is a big family.


Growing up with these children has given me a deeper knowledge of them and the world. I see struggle in their faces; but through that struggle I see joy and an incredible force of energy that feels like it could push you over. The strength is a feeling of want: the want of achieving something. We grow and live to help one another, and in the end, I was rewarded with incredible experiences that may never have happened somewhere else in the world. I feel like I can take the help that was given and pass it on to the children, and in return, I find friends who understand what it is like to have to struggle to learn.

We are all looking for our place and role in the world. I have come to see that each special needs child is the pure image of ourselves; I believe we have to speak to them with truth and honesty. When you look into their eyes, there is such an innocence and love. They have some of the greatest and purest knowledge that we can find.

I will never forget walking down the road one day, when I met a girl with arms full; she was struggling to walk under the load but as she saw me, she gave me a smile and said hello. I returned the favor and we both walked our separate ways. I looked back and she walked with lighter steps. This is what you find when you walk down the road in our village full of children with individual abilities. I know they are our teachers as we are their teachers, gladly giving back what we have willingly given them.

Editor’s note: Jacoba is currently a house parent in a Camphill community in England.
Written in 2012 by Jacoba Janisch
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