It is easy to think about development work only in terms of improving physical aspects of a community like economics or health. However, transformational development also means coming along-side the poor to help them spiritually and socially. It even means encouraging them to laugh and play.
We often view the poor as simply downtrodden, sad, and in pain. However, among the pain of poverty, abuse, disability, or neglect, we often see shining moments of happiness. Children only need each other and whatever toy they can find to have fun; relationships and meals with old friends and family can bring people comfort and reassurance despite their daily challenges. That’s why we believe it is important to not only host our Early intervention groups, consultations, and trainings, but also invite families to several social events per year.
We hold all sorts of gatherings: annual parties for the Persian new year holiday, Navruz; a Christmas/New Year’s celebration; and trips to a nearby lake or park. They are great opportunities for mothers to enjoy spending time with their children and with one-another outside of our regular groups. At the Navruz celebration, we were even able to partner with Operation Christmas Child to provide presents for many children with disabilities in the community. These celebrations are also opportunities for the community to see the care these mothers are giving their children who happen to have disabilities. At last year’s Navruz celebration, someone came from the media to videotape the celebration and broadcast it on the local television. Other events are kept smaller, but passer-byes or venue-hosts still see the love these mothers demonstrate.
In a society where having a child with disabilities is sometimes viewed as a curse from God, these mothers are true ordinary heroes. They brave possible condemnation from their community to give their children a happy memory and live joyfully in the midst of a tough life.