Friday, 19 August 2016


Last night we had a BBQ dinner at the local school for spastic and Down syndrome children.
Once a year they have a sleep-over at the school for the one hundred-over children in the school.
The children really seemed to enjoy the event so much.

My wife and I sat at a small garden table and enjoyed the flavor of the fried rice and BBQ-ed chicken when one girl with Down syndrome of about 12 years came to give my wife a hug. She stroked very gently the face of my wife a few times and sat herself next to us at our table. She held a styro-foam cup with a drink, parts of which had been plucked off by her teeth already. She sat down silently and looked at us with so much love in her eyes, that we started to talk to her. We asked questions that she did not answer. Then we shifted our approach to simple praise. She seemed to enjoy the simple praise. One of the teachers came to ask if she wanted more drinks. She went to fill her cup and came back for another hug and some more praise.

Later another girl with the same condition, 18 years old this time, came to join us with a plate full of food. A similar scenario. She ate her food with so much style and so much elegance, something she had apparently picked up during one of the trips overseas she had made with her parents. Again she did not answer most of our questions but clearly enjoyed praise.

A bit later parents of a slightly older girl with Down syndrome too, joined us. The girl seemed to have a good time at the school and was so keen on staying for the night out that she was visibly worried that her parents would take her back. Several times she came to explain to her father that she would sleep at the school that night and kissed his hand and waived him each time goodbye.

Somehow these children and young adults with Down syndrome are very different from us. But they do have their own qualities and tend to be very affectionate.  When we spend time with them, our hearts tend to soften and compassion seems to increase. Isn't that one of the biggest presents anyone can give, a softer heart and an increased compassion?

Love and compassion, one of the greatest gifts !

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