By Dickson Tumuramye
Recently I attended a burial celebration of a person I didn’t know. It was my friend’s sister who had gone to be with the Lord.
A line up of speakers, one after the other praised this girl for her good character. I saw young and old nodding their heads in agreement with what everyone talked about her.
One important thing that stood out from all speakers was the love this girl had for all people. It was indeed interesting to hear such testimonies about her. You could think she was a politician or a great business lady who had a heart of compassion to the poor.
I imagined, if this person had political ambitions before death, wouldn’t politicians find her a potential threat? Unfortunately, such praises come when you are no more (“basiima ogenze!”)
One unique thing about this girl was that she was handicapped but full of joy and love. She was only 16, but many praised her as they would one older and influential.
She gave her heart out to people and received the same. “She loved God and never stopped preaching the gospel regardless of her handicap”, said one of the speakers.
There are people who look at people living with disabilities (PLWDS) and think that there is nothing good in them. But I am sure a woman who has never given birth would say “I wish I had such disabled child and I also earn a title of a Mother.” And there are those who have such children but they are cursing God for such a shame or burden in their homes.
Martha left every mourner touched by her testimony and it well confirmed that disability/handicap will never be inability. In one way, every human being has a purpose he/she adds to their family.
Martha, who died knowing Christ as her Lord and Savior, used her potential to serve God. She loved singing even when she had difficulty with her speech. All children are equally important in our lives but we can never exploit their potential unless we deliberately walk the journey of their lives with love, patience, understanding and discovering their uniqueness.
All of us are created in God’s image and have a reason why God allowed us to be conceived by our parents. The reason you didn’t die prematurely is enough to understand that there are special attributes God put in you.
I was impressed by the way her parents celebrated her life, made colorful send off and life’s final party. Indeed every life worth living is worthy celebrated!
Therefore as we all love good treatment, care and love, let us also treat PLWDs as the same as we are. They too deserve respect and share similar rights like any other person. The uniqueness is that they are people with special needs.
I know there are people who live without care as if they don’t live on this planet earth. They have no interpersonal relationships with even their family members.
My advice to parents is to enjoy every life of any child they have. Look at every child as though s/he is the only one you had. Allow them also to celebrate their life as worth living while they are with you.
Any time you or your child will be no more because life is short. But the way we respect life brings joy to all of us. We can all make our speech through different voices while still alive. Never despise any God’s creation. Any life is worth celebration.
The write is a Child Advocate