July 29, 2005
Steffilia is an adorable 7 or 8 year old who comes to our Ndirande Handicapped Club because she has Down’s syndrome. She loves to be hugged and picked up and Heather, Brooke, or Aukje are usually holding her by the end of the session.
Steffilia loves craft time. She concentrates very hard on her coloring or gluing and proudly shows off her completed work with a huge smile. However, there are some people who fail to be charmed by this engaging child. Because she is “different” than most children, she is excluded from many activities in Malawi.
At home in the USA, Heather has been friends with a girl who has Downs syndrome since they were toddlers. Emily has had a wonderful public school education and just before we left, was showing Heather her prom pictures. I don’t think that Steffilia will ever go to a prom or get a good education.
Even Steffilia’s family does not value her. One week she came to club with a badly infected abscess on her eye. We were told that her father would not pay for her to go to the doctor and have it taken care of. Weike gave her money, and the next week it was healing nicely. Her own family would have let her go blind!
So the girls pamper her, tickle her, and try to make her laugh each week. It is not hard. Despite the difficult life that she leads, or maybe because of it, she always seems ready to smile.