MOH, MOE, others pledge commitment to support children with Down Syndrome
A local non-governmental organization called “My Heart’s Appeal Incorporated,” dedicated to the support of children living with Down syndrome, has observed its 5th anniversary, with a commitment to reach out to more of these children across the country.
Down syndrome is a congenital disorder arising from a chromosome defect, causing intellectual impairment and physical abnormalities including short stature and a broad facial profile. It arises from a defect involving chromosome 21, usually an extra copy (trisomy-21).
Speaking Tuesday during the anniversary celebration held at the Christ The King Catholic Church in Gaye Town, Old Road, Lovetie Major, executive director of the NGO, said the event was meant to generate funds to support the mission of My Heart’s Appeal Incorporated. Its goal to provide a safe campus in Liberia to give teens and adults in West Africa with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to receive training to help them become productive citizens.
The program which included a tour of the school and training facility built by the executive director, brought together officials from various ministries, including the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, and the Ministry of Health, as well as parents and children faced with Down Syndrome and other disabilities.
Madam Major said her passion for people with such disabilities grew from the premise that everyone should have a chance to learn without discrimination, either on the basis of disability, sex, culture or religion, adding: “It is the belief of this corporation that all individuals deserve the inherent and socio-political rights to all the privileges enjoyed by those we call normal people.”
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” she said.
Dr. Sia Wata Camanor, consultant pediatrician who deals with the medical care of infants, children and adolescents from birth up to 18-21 years of age at the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Hospital, lauded MHA for the care given children living with Down Syndrome in Liberia.
“This is a disease that does not have a cure or treatment. A child with Down Syndrome can be managed so that they can have the best outcome. Children with heart problems can be treated,” Dr. Camanor said.
She has pledged to work with the children through the MHA to ensure that they are tested to ascertain if it is possible for some of them to get an education.
“Some of the kids need special teachers to help them learn, which is referred to as multiple disciplinary approach. We will be ready to have them tested before attending school and also be tested after every three to four months. We will appreciate even coming to carry out the test at the campus here,” Dr. Camanor said.
Dr. Fred Amagashie, Director, Non-Communicable Disease Division at the Ministry Health, lauded Madam Major for the level of support to children with Down Syndrome in Liberia, including the completion of the training institute.
March 21 each year is celebrated globally as World Down Syndrome Day, when the voices of people suffering from the condition, and those who work and live with them, grow louder.
The organization was founded in the American state of Maryland in 1996 as a non-profit institution to meet the special education and training needs of people with disability. MHA is now incorporated and in Liberia with future plans to extend it to other West African countries to lay a solid foundation in the sub-region for the care and support of children and adults living with Down Syndrome.