Ed and Ousmane are Home sharers in the Mayfield neighborhood, a cozy community of detached homes nestled between Lake Montebello, Herring Run and Clifton Parks. Ed, who’s been sharing his home through St. Ambrose since 2011, is a longtime advocate of shared housing. For Ed, it’s a healthy stimulator to live in community with others, and some of what it takes to be a good roommate is a mindset of compatibility and a willingness to communicate openly.
Ousmane, who joined our community of Home sharers in February 2016 is blind, and was referred to St. Ambrose through a job readiness training program. When he graduated from his job training program, he was able to swiftly transition to Homesharing, perfectly matching with Ed.
“One Step at a Time”
From his new home, Ousmane waits at the corner to catch the bus to his work south of downtown Baltimore. On his return trip, he takes the bus to one block north of his home in order to cross at the controlled cross walk. When he reaches the cross walk, he listens for the cycle of traffic to stop to know when to cross the street. He knows the timing of the lights by memory, and always waits for a complete cycle to pass through before he ventures across the street, white walking stick leading the way.
Sometimes a neighbor will offer him guidance to walk across the way, and Ousmane always graciously accepts, “it’s part of their spirituality” to offer assistance, but each day for Ousmane, crossing the street is another opportunity to practice and learn. Another walk across the street is another step towards the independent lifestyle he enjoyed before he lost his sight four years ago.
Ousmane, who is originally from Senegal, moved to the US in 1996. When he went blind in 2012, he had a lot to learn on his path to living independently again. For Ousmane, Homesharing is an experience in the “School of Life” and a way to live self-sufficiently, while in community with others. “It’s a daily self-assignment and a challenge to make sure I’m acting correctly and on the same page with others… I can always improve myself and my communication.” Ousmane wakes up around 5 am each morning to get ready for work. He moves silently about the house, taking great care with every step. Ed describes Ousmane’s movement as “ninja-like,” but for Ousmane, a heightened sense of hearing makes him very mindful of moving quietly at an early hour.
Adaptations- making the house a home for Ousmane
When Ousmane first moved in he carried around raised bump locator stickers and received assistance to mark buttons and switches around the house for guidance. There’s a dot to identify the start button on the laundry machine and three dots on the microwave to identify the number 3, the start, and the clear button. Another practical adaptation is a paper bag to place his mail. Ousmane has an app on his phone that he uses to scan and read text when he shops for food, reads mail, or checks paper money.
It didn’t take much to make Ousmane feel comfortable in his new home. One final adaptation that’s in the works-“Well, we’ll need to expand the garden,” Ed mentions. Ousmane is a vegetarian and the backyard garden is certainly a point of community pride and unity at the shared Mayfield home.
What is the best part about Homesharing?
For Ousmane, he finds that he is at peace in his new home,”living in sync with good people inspires me to be my best self.”
For Ed, Homesharing stretches his comparability and comfort zone, and “it’s a way to act locally and build bridges in the community.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Interested in Homesharing? Call 410-366-6180.