Zim commemorates World Down Syndrome Day

By Lisa Masuku

AS the world commemorates World Down Syndrome Day this Monday, it is a double celebration for a 27 year old Bulawayo woman who is also celebrating her birthday on the special day for people with the condition.

The celebrations would not have come on a better day for Andile Dube who turned 27 as the world commemorated a day which has played a key role in helping her embrace who she is despite the stigma and discrimination that people with her condition endure.

Her Mother Sibonisiwe Mazula says although Down Syndrome is associated with intellectual disability and speech defects, her daughter is a vocal fighter of equal and fair treatment as shown by her outgoing personality.

“She is part of the church choir, we are grateful of the fact that they over looked her speech defects and accepted her. I taught her to embrace her condition because if I hide her am killing both her well being and mine. Some parents who do not have children with Down Syndrome go to the extent of telling their kids not to touch those suffering from this condition as if it’s contagious. It’s painful. People look at her with disdain and sometimes she even goes to the extent of asking or telling them to stop. I have taught her rights,” she said.

Unlike most people with Down Syndrome who tend to shun the community’s disdain by hiding Dube has a very cheerful personality and is passionate about music.

“I love singing , I sing at church,” said Andile.

With this year’s commemorations running under the theme “Inclusion means”, the clarion call is for inclusion of people with Down Syndrome in all spheres.

“Those with Down Syndrome are not taken as part of the main stream society. They are taken as people who need traditional healing. The point is that their integration into the society is more beneficial to the society at large because if you discriminate people with Down syndrome it a psychological torture to them and even the parents, relatives,” explained Watson Khuphe, Senator Representing People with Disabilities.

World Down Syndrome Day is an annual March 21 global awareness day observed to signify the uniqueness of the chromosomal condition associated with intellectual disability.