She said it is important for both parents and teachers to focus on the talents those children who have Down syndrome and other form of disabilities, rather than on their physical appearances.
Speaking as proxy for Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection, Victoria Sherman, Mrs. Togba lamented that Down syndrome is a form of disorder in the chromosome that leads to some recognizable features on people who suffer from it. She said, at times, some people face difficulties in doing certain things as compared to other children.
The MGCSP official said it is important that children with Down syndrome be treated not separately from normal children, adding, it would help them to learn faster from their friends.
She stated that it has been noticed in some schools that teachers do not have the required patience to accord these children time and attention they need to learn.
Mrs. Togba added that it is important that learning institutions and teachers be given special training in dealing with this kind of situation so as to minimize the discrimination against people suffering from the disease.
She noted that children with disabilities can achieve their potentials once they are given the chance in life by educational institutions and their parents.
Mrs. Togba disclosed to the audience that the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection (MGCSP) has approved subsides for the Down Syndrome Children, under “MY HEART’S APPEAL” organization.
She lamented that some parents are sometimes ashamed of their children born with disabilities and they prefer to keep them in door in order to avoid being ridiculed by others.
She said some of the children with these disabilities will end up dropping out of school because of the mockery and shunning from other children.
For her part, “My HEART’S APPEAL INC.” founder and Executive Director, Lovetie Major said it is important for Liberia and the world to know that there exists people with Down Syndrome in Liberia as it is in other countries and they do need attention and care.
Ms. Major said she became motivated to establish this organization when she had a sister who has Down syndrome, and because of her condition, she was not accepted to attend school. And as sister, according to her, she would not see her sibling being shunned in such manner. She established “MY HEART’S APPEAL INC” in 1996 to seek the welfare of such children who fell in the category of her sister.
Currently, Major said there are 16 children under the auspices of her organization and they are undergoing some programs that could help enhance their future.
She noted that the program being offered by her organization is self-supported and she intends to go to all parts of Liberia. Ms. Major said this vision will be realized gradually.
Liberia celebrated this year’s World Down Syndrome Day under the theme: “My Friends, My Community, The Benefits of Inclusive Environment for Today’s Children and Tomorrow’s Adults.”