Michael’s hobby brings happiness
If you visit IRT Berala on the Park, you’re likely to be greeted by colourful papier-mache created by 92-year-old resident Michael Fares.
Michael’s called the Care Centre home since 2011, when he moved in to live with his wife of 61 years Alice, who sadly passed away the following year.
The former mechanic indulges his love of machines and foreign landmarks by creating papier-mache of buildings, cars and boats – just to name a few!
Michael’s hobby helps to keep him happy, and the team at IRT Berala on the Park love to display his creations.
“We have a multicultural community of residents here, so embracing their individual diversity is really important to their quality of life,” Acting Care Manager Ethan Bidner says.
“Michael’s from Lebanon and lived in Ghana with Alice and his four kids before migrating to Auburn in the 1950s. Making papier-mache helps to keep his hands and mind active. We’re always curious to see what he’ll make next.”
And so are his family.
Michael has 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren who live nearby and visit him regularly.
His suite is a treasure trove of memories from his life – black and white photographs with his young family in Accra, recent family photos, awards for excellent service during his working life, and, of course, papier-mache.
Michael misses his “beautiful wife” but says he feels at home at IRT Berala on the Park.
“The management, the staff and the nurses at IRT are very good. I am happy here.”
What is papier-mache?
Papier-mache is a French word that literally means chewed paper. It is a composite material, consisting of paper pieces or pulp, sometimes reinforced with textiles and bound with an adhesive.
Papier-mache was used in Ancient Egypt for coffins and death masks. It was also used in the Middle and Far East to manufacture small painted boxes, bowls lined with metals, trays and cases.
As early as 1540 it was used for doll heads in Europe and by the early 18th century gilded papier-mache began to appear as a low-cost alternative to similarly treated plaster or carved wood in architecture.
It is now used primarily for ornamental handiwork.