One of the brothers living in Bangladesh writes:
Yesterday, we went, with Bishop Theotonius of Dhaka and a few young people, to the Mission Parish of Mariamnogor, which is about 3 hours away from Mymensingh. Other young people had preceded us, to prepare this day of meeting and sharing with families of this region who have children with disabilities. There were also one or two children from each of our small communities for children with disabilities at Mymensingh, and a group of people from the Community Centre for the Disabled.
What a beautiful day! There were around 150 people. There were many Muslims and also some Hindus. The parish was so happy to welcome them and to live this practical sign of the coming of Christmas, at the beginning of this Advent.
It was the first time that we had organised such a meeting in this parish and there was much surprise and joy. Just to be able to meet and to share about their lives is hugely important for all these children with disabilities and for their mothers and fathers. There is so little change in their day-to-day life that a meeting like this one can lighten their burdens and help them feel less alone in their situation. Most of these families are very poor. For example, there was one mother whose four daughters were disabled; one of them was bed-ridden. Her illness was progressive and will probably lead to death, for lack of treatment – and the mother has to beg, each day, to have enough to live on…
Christian families whose child has a disability are usually helped and visited by the parish, but the Muslims are much more isolated and are often without help or support.
In the morning, after a little snack, the parents came together to listen to each other and share about their life. The children also met to play, sing and laugh together. Most of these children are very limited by their disability, but the simple chance to move and to see other things, to leave their own house, to hear songs – all these things were enough to bring a smile to their faces…
The morning ended with a very simple prayer, some songs, a reading, and an Islamic song sung by one of the fathers who had brought his son. The bishop also said a few words.
After this time of prayer, we all shared a very simple meal together. In the afternoon, our young people organised some games. Everyone joined in, children and parents! This was a very joyful way to be together and, perhaps, to forget everyday worries for a while.
The families were visibly pleased with this day, and for us it was a gift to have been able to share with all these poor people: Muslims, Christians and Hindus.