We, at Nelumyaya Foundation, with the island wide programme ‘Girls Go Green’, travelled to Mihinthalaya on 8th April 2018 to carry out a district-level programme for Anuradhapura district. When a cool breeze was blowing and the sunlight that came through windows was warming the hall, we were taught of the wonder of life by three special children. A lamp that showed us how to stand up even in the middle of great despair was lit.
She entered the hall partway through the program and sat comfortably in the front row. She resembled a bride clad in white attire. An adorable boy and a girl also came with her to assist her. They were the leading roles of the concluding performance of the programme.
The story conveyed by them in the form of a performance, despite suffering from the effects of Down’s syndrome and defamations such as ‘mongal children’, is a must see. It deserves to be seen.
What deserves your attention more than that is the parents of these children. They constantly wept. But did you listen to the echo behind their tears?
Motherhood is not born of mere affection for children. Motherhood consists of immeasurable sweat, tears and blood they shed to make their children ‘normal’ since the day they realized that their children were were normal. That mother bites her lips, and holds back her tears. She lets her eyes turn red as she is unable to cry.
This trio of children had shown their skills through Muthuhara Children’s Society and many island wide victories. The mother of the girl who resembled a bride mentioned that she is able to properly write and read English. “I shall teach my child to the best of my ability. I shall do everything I can.” she mentioned. The girl, who was sitting because of mere inability to walk, also contributed to the dancing act as much as she was able to. The adorable little boy always seemed to be looking for a smiling face in the crowd. This child, who had won island wide victories, looked for nothing but affection. “Give us a little room to live” was the only request we saw in his eyes.
I recall a trip to Bowaththa after another ‘Girls Go Green’ program held in Polonnaruwa. We met a girl with Down’s syndrome. There were a number of scars on her breast as a result of heart surgeries she went through during the two to three decades of her life. Apart from that, there were more scars on her breast made by an evildoer who broke into her house while her mother was away. The boy child, who was born as a result of that rape incident, is today a mentally disable youngster. Her mother suffers from the thought that her daughter was raped at the age of eleven because of her fault.
In a society where newborns are abandoned in garbage dumps, these mothers who struggle to aid their children stand on their feet, deserve a thousand salutes. So, when you watch this video, please do not forget to read what is written in the eyes of these mothers. How can you or I say that there is not a great anguish within them about what the tomorrow of these girls will be like, when their mothers are no more. The untold story left for us to think about, by this trio of children, is unquestionably a lesson which reminds us of individual and collective responsibility we have as the members of the society.
Written by – Radika Gunaratne
Photography – Ajith Senevirathne