How cooking classes are opening doors for children with Down Syndrome in the Central Asian States.
Children born with Down Syndrome in Central Asia are often rejected by society. Some communities even consider them to be cursed. It is not unheard of for the father of a child with Down syndrome to abandon their families, leaving mothers and children without any support.
In one area that Tearfund is working in, a group of mothers banded together to set up a centre for children with Down syndrome. This provided support and solidarity for these families, setting up social events and summer camps.
These were incredibly successful, but they wanted to do more to help the children integrate into society. They had the will, but they needed a way.
A pinch of potential
Despite being poor themselves, the local community wanted to help. They knew that these children were not being allowed to fulfil their potential.
Tearfund run community development courses in the area, and offer grants to help communities get projects off the ground. After attending the course, the community decided to team up with the mothers and set up culinary classes for the children.
The classes would give the children new skills, help them make new friends, and tackle the negative stereotypes society placed on them. The grant application was successful, and they were able to buy the kitchen equipment they needed.
A dash of healing
‘The first classes were held in a tense atmosphere,’ said one of the partner staff members. ‘For the mothers and children with Down's Syndrome it was unusual that somebody was happy to see them. For community members it was unusual to communicate with such a group of children. It was a challenge to unite the groups and find common ground.’
Yet over time, relationships and trust began to grow. The project was building people up, and breaking down barriers in society. Volunteers noted how much pain and disappointment the mothers had, and how many of their wounds were caused by relatives and friends. To help, counselling sessions were arranged to help the mothers.
As time goes by, the wounds are slowly beginning to heal, and the women are rebuilding their self-esteem and self-worth. Moreover, the children are having a great time, and can look forward to a brighter future.
- Thank God for this project, and pray that it will continue to change the lives of children with Down syndrome for many years to come.
- Pray that attitudes in societies across Central Asia to change, so that these children will no longer be marginalised.
- Pray that more people will be inspired to take action on behalf of their local communities.