Events in 2015
Concert, 12 March
Many thanks to all our friends at L’Association Ma Non Troppo for the wonderful concert, organized by Catherine Martinet, in favour of La Maison de Tara. A rapt audience in the Salle Communale of Chêne Bougeries, listened to some glorious music by Mozart, Rossini and Offenbach. But it wasn’t all serious, some comedy sketches also had everyone laughing out loud. Canapes and drinks, when the talented cast mixed with the audience, rounded off a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Seminar on wise relationship, June 15-16 with Frank Ostaseski
Healthcare practitioners and hospice volunteers always operate in the context of relationships - with patients, colleagues, and families. It is essential to know how to navigate that territory with skill, clarity and compassion. At its core, good medicine is built on the practice of wise relationship. Patients want more than expertise -- they need a human face on the care they receive. Continuity, trust and communication matter.
Some 60 volunteers, external health care providers and staff spent two days together exploring and developing key elements of Wise Relationship including; three centre listening, skills for deepening dialogue, mindfulness practices that develop cognitive control, emotional balance and somatic awareness. They also worked with the “wounded healer” archetype, disengaging from the inner critic, and cultivating their capacity to care profoundly while also functioning with balance and composure.
Frank Ostaseski is one of the leading voices in contemplative care of the dying. His programmes have introduced thousands to the practices of mindful and compassionate care of the dying. Our warmest thanks go to him and to his excellent translator Genevieve Hamelet. We also want to acknowledge Webster University who so kindly made available their large meeting room free of charge. We thank them and deeply appreciate their community spirit.
Events in 2014
For the second year a team of 19 enthusiastic runners, adults and children, and sporting a Maison de Tara teeshirt, participated in the Geneva Marathon in aid of the hospice. Those of us who are more sedentary helped to cheer on our team.
An initial cloudy sky kept temperatures pleasantly cool for the runners, after which the sun came out to provide a golden afternoon for everyone.
The Geneva marathon is really nice because there is an event for everyone: young and old, serious athletes, weekend joggers and those who simply enjoy a brisk walk over a few kilometres, so everyone can participate.
Some 70 kind team sponsors donated over CHF8000 to our activities. Thank you so much. A big thank you also to all our runners and special thanks to Johan Nauckhoff who acted as team coordinator and also sponsored the teeshirts.
We hope that next year even more ‘friends of Tara’ will join us on sponsored runs or walks. For those of us who work at Tara it is not just about receiving donations to continue our activities, essential though these are, it is also very much about solidarity and community.
Seminar on compassion and presence, 13-14 May
La Maison de Tara had the great pleasure of welcoming Christine Longaker, pioneer in end of life accompaniment and ex director of the Santa Cruz Hospice in California. Over two unforgettable days, during teachings on compassionate presence, motivation and listening, Christine encouraged our volunteers and staff to constantly improve the quality of their accompaniment of people at the end of life. Individual and collective exchanges, together with guidance in contemplative methods, brought the teachings to life and adapted to the life and needs of the hospice.
Christine’s luminous presence stayed with us long after her departure and we are deeply grateful for her teachings. For the second year running we benefited from the translation skills of Genevieve Hamelet and also from the excellent services of Webster University who kindly made available their large meeting room free of charge. We thank them and deeply appreciate their community spirit.
Family and volunteers’ annual fete 30 August
Everyone crossed their fingers the day before the fete because the weather in Geneva had been so consistently rainy. But we were lucky! After an overnight storm, the day dawned clear and sunny. Some 60 families, staff and volunteers were reunited to share news and memories. Young and old enjoyed the mellow jazz, a live singsong of old favourites led by our two talented guitarists, lots of good food and wine, and the delight of eating al fresco.
Thank you to all the kind volunteers and families who helped with the preparations and who provided some memorable dishes. Many thanks also to our wonderful Commune of Chêne-Bougeries who provided and installed the tents and tables for the event.
Events in 2013
Lions Club concert in aid of La Maison de Tara
Some 100 enthusiastic music lovers braved torrential rain and glacial temperatures on a Sunday evening in December to attend a concert organized by Lions Club Geneva Nations in aid of La Maison de Tara. They were rewarded by two hours of glorious music by Zeina Dorkhom (mezzo soprano), Gilles Landini (piano), Patrick Leyvraz (violon) and Luc Aeschlimann (cello). A glass of champagne in the interval, served by club members, added to the conviiviality.
Tara Foundation President, Anne-Marie Struijk, guest of honour at a Lions Club dinner on 24 January 2013, accepted with much gratitude a cheque for CHF24,000, collected by the Club in support of the work of the hospice. A big thank you from everyone at Tara goes to to all who contributed to this delightful event and its remarkable outcome.
Seminar by Professor Gian Domenico Borasio, 21 March
Geneva family doctors and palliative care nurses gathered at La Maison de Tara for a fascinating and interactive seminar on quality of life at the end of life. Professor Borasio, who holds the chair in palliative care at the Vaud university hospital (CHUV), shared his rich professional experience in this field and updated participants on the latest research.
Tara team runs the Geneva marathon, 2-3 May
Over 50 runners, young and old, ran in the Geneva marathon events as Team Tara in remembrance off Candida Silver, a resident of La Maison de Tara for some weeks in July 2012. 103 sponsors from 5 countries supported the team and raised more than CHF17,000 for the hospice. Sophie Forsyth, a great friend of Candida, did a magnificent job of organizing the event. All our thanks go to her, the runners and the sponsors.
Rotary Club raclette stand 25 May
Lovers of wine and cheese were able to enjoy this magic combination – and contribute to La Maison de Tara – in the lovely village of Dadagny during the annual ‘Caves Ouvertes’ festival. The Rotary Club Genève Lac organised a raclette stand in support of the work the hospice. Despite inclement weather a good time and good food was had by everyone. Many thanks to all the Rotary Club members who offered their Saturday to set up and run the stand.
Seminar on the development of presence and compassion, 4-5 June
Over two wonderful days, Frank Ostaseski. Founder of the Metta Institute and the Zen Hospice in San Francisco, helped Tara volunteers and professionals learn more about how to use attention and compassion to tackle practical, emotional and spiritual issues that arise at the end of life. Using interactive discussion, integration exercises and personal exploration, Frank helped participants to recognise and bring to the fore their innate capacity to be a compassionate companion.
We thank Frank for his dynamic and original teachings and also Mme Geneviéve Hamelet for her excellent translations. We wish to express our gratitude to Webster University who so kindly offered free of charge the use of a perfect room for the seminar.
Family fete at La Maison de Tara, 25 June
Families, staff and volunteers were reunited on a beautiful June afternoon for our first family fete, a musical barbecue held in the garden. Families who had only seen the house in winter were entranced by its verdant summer aspect. It was a time to share memories, reminisce and also to talk of the future. Some families and friends chose roses in remembrance of loved ones, to be planted in the new memorial rose garden.
Memorial rose garden
A small oasis of calm and afternoon shade, the new memorial rose garden enables family and friends of deceased residents to celebrate their lives through the cultivation of a rose. The roses are chosen for their beauty and scent and bear a small disk engraved with the name of the person remembered. A stone bench provides a seat for contemplation and rest.
Events in 2012
On a balmy evening in May some 60 volunteers gathered in the garden of La Maison de Tara to share experiences,and impressions, pose questions and listen to news of future developments. It was a good opportunity to meet new and old friends, and also to enjoy some delicious snacks and local wines.
Anne-Marie Struijik and Guylaine Lozano thanked everyone for their commitment and their flexibility without which the house could not function. They clarified certain organizational points and highlighted some new ways of working together. François Audetat presented plans for ongoing volunteer training. A suggestions box is now available in the dining room and, of course, members of the Management Committee welcome comments and new ideas.
Mr Pierre-Francois Unger, Conseiller d’Etat, Department of Regional Affairs, Economy and Health, together with Mr Adrien Bron, Director General of Health, Geneva, honoured La Maison de Tara with a visit on 3 July 2012. After a tour of the house our distinguished guests stayed for tea in the garden and an in depth discussion with foundation trustees, the management committee, volunteers and the mother of one of our residents on issues related to death and dying, our work and societal changes. Their very positive conclusions about our work can be read in the section ‘Testimonials’.
Events in 2011
To the great joy of everyone involved, the official inauguration of La Maison de Tara took place at 18.30 on 15 September.
Representatives of numerous medical, health and social welfare related organizations attended the event.
Anne-Marie Struijk, Founder and President of the Maison de Tara spoke of the long gestation period of eight years that were needed to rally the necessary financial and operational support to open the house. And she mentioned her personal links with the commune where her grandfather had been Pasteur of the Temple of Chêne-Bougeries and where her father had passed his childhood. She thanked the many people and organizations whose support had made this venture possible, in particular the Commune of Chêne-Bougeries, the donors, the medical associations and home help agencies, the governing board of the foundation, the new director and, most importantly, all the volunteers and the professionals who had trained them.
M. Jean-Michel Karr, Mayor of Chêne-Bougeries, then made the opening speech on behalf of the Commune. He said that it was an honour for the Commune to be able to participate in the start up of La Maison de Tara, a project that was innovative and gave cause for reflection on the meaning of life in our society. Noting that the team of volunteers was international, he broke into English, hoping that they would find the strength ' to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse" to accompany the patients with commitment and humanity. M. Karr highlighted that this would not always be easy, but he wanted to give an assurance that the Communal authorities would always be with La Maison de Tara in heart and in spirit not just now but in the long term. He then declared the house officially open. The ribbon was cut by Mme Béatrice Grandjean-Kybury, Conseillière administrative.
Over 500 visitors, both professional and the general public, took advantage of our Open days on 23 and 24 September to take a tour of the house, guided by volunteers, and to meet the staff and some members of the governing board. It was a particular pleasure to welcome some of our neighbours. Reactions were very positive.
The professionals welcomed the mix of a homely environment combined with detailed attention to the needs of people at the end of life. General visitors commented on the lovely setting, the comfortable rooms, the ease of access and the non-institutional environment.
Many visitors stayed to enjoy refreshments in the garden and to visit our information stand which had materials in French and English.
The Tribune de Genève of 24-25 September published a major article on the house to publicise the open days together with a billboard headlined Finir sa vie dans une villa plutôt que à l'hôpital (see press section). Information about the open days was also transmitted via English and French language radio programmes, websites, church and public notice boards.
Annual volunteers' barbecue
Volunteers and many others who helped with the renovation work on the house, gathered at La Maison de Tara on 26 August for the annual barbecue.
Barbecue coordinator Suvi Mabille did a magnificent job. And, despite probably the worst storm 0f the year, over 100 guests braved the bad weather to renew friendships, have fun and enjoy delicious food and drinks from many culinary traditions. Thank you to all who attended, who shared their favourite dishes, and who participated in the organization. Especial thanks are due to our wonderful Commune of Chêne-Bougeries for providing and setting up the tent, tables and chairs.