The missionary who spoke to our Sunday school class last weekend shared how his wife has gotten involved with families of Down Syndrome children in the Philippines. Children with any type of disability are kept locked in back rooms. It's taboo for them to be out in public. (Based on the discussion that followed his mention of this, it's true in many countries outside of "the West".)
Through her efforts, she has encouraged some of the women there to take their children out in public, to let them enjoy being outdoors and experiencing the sights, smells, and sounds they've been kept away from for so long. Thankfully there is no persecution for what these ladies are doing, and more women have started taking their own disabled children out after seeing others do it. There's also talk of building a park for these children so they can have a place to play.
What touched me so much is that my older cousin Lori has Down Syndrome. I can't begin to imagine if she had lived in a society that kept its handicapped hidden away for life. She has such a love for people, and she never forgets anyone she meets. When she and her mother go "downtown" in their small country town, Lori knows everyone she sees and calls them by name - even people her mother doesn't know! And everyone loves Lori, too. She gives a big smile and says hello and always asks, "How are you?" And she's always ready with a hug. Lori is also a champion participant in the Special Olympics. She has countless medals for swimming. Those things in her life provide her with an excitement and a purpose.
Lori celebrated her 40th birthday this summer. I wasn't able to go to her party, but I heard it was wonderful. Lots of family and friends were there, and she had the time of her life, surrounded by people she loves.
I can't begin to - nor do I want to - imagine what Lori would've been like had she been born somewhere other than the United States. It seems that even though life isn't valued as much here as we would like, it's valued more here than most other places.