TRIBUTE to people with Down Syndrome
Thibault de Bourleuf, Grégoire Théry, Louis Arnauld and Vianney-Marie Soubrier, the young men of la Fraternité Notre-Dame de l’Étoile, that inspired the nomination of a Down Syndrome person for the Public Peace Prize.
Excerpt of the nomination text : I would like the Public Peace Prize winner to be a Down Syndrome person. I think many of them have a real ability to diffuse peace around them. Peace is essentially a gift which is best transmitted by the little and the poor. To receive peace in one’s heart you need to be “simplified”; and DS people do simplify everyone they meet.
Peace around the world begins with peace in our relationships and within ourselves, for each and every one of us. I was fortunate to experience a special kind of peace for the four years I lived with the young men of the fraternity Our Lady of the Star.
Following the awarding of the 2014 Public Peace Prize in the category of “Local Peacemakers” to all persons with Down Syndrome for their “real ability to diffuse peace around them,” we have decided to publish this tribute page. We gathered a few excerpts of testimonies, quotations and images sent to us by individuals and organizations. In this way we hope to contribute to the recognition of all persons with Down Syndrome for their invaluable contribution to humanity.
According to their friends and relatives, «people with Down Syndrome develop a predisposition for peacemaking which blossoms when offered a favorable context. »
Jean Vanier agrees wholeheartedly: “My experience in L’Arche helped me to discover that those who are weak, small, disabled are also prophets of peace. By their presence and gestures they open our hearts to understanding and compassion rather than awaken fear. In a mysterious way they break down the barriers that surround our hearts.”
Welcoming the child with Down Syndrome
… you arrived with a little something extra, a chromosome attached to the 21st pair… you have Trisomy 21. It was a shock. Your father and I and had trouble understanding why life had thrown us this challenge. And then, very gently, you snuggled up in my arms and our beautiful love story began. You looked into my eyes and I felt that you were asking me to love you the way you were and that together we would overcome the obstacles one by one, with the conviction that your life would be full, fulfilling and rooted in our community.
Through your simple presence, you enabled us to see inside ourselves, you made us more open, tolerant and respectful of differences.
Anik Larose – AQIS
It was like everything was frozen inside of me. I wanted to run far away, very far away… I was so afraid in face of this very small child! Afraid that my life would be irremediably turned upside-down, afraid of suffering…
I will never forget the first time he looked at me. His eyelids as they tried to open for the first time and, when they did, the complete abandonment I could see in them…
That look broke open all my armoured doors, my preconceptions, my pointless questions. It torpedoed me to the centre of my soul. That look said to me: “You are my mother. I need your love so much!”
I finally began to cry…
Translated from “Ombres et lumières »
A must-see video
“I’m expecting a baby. I have learned that it has Down Syndrome. I am scared. What kind of life will my child have?”
In response to a letter received from a woman who is pregnant with a child with Down Syndrome, the Coordown Association posted a video on YouTube.
Many people with Down Syndrome from around the world responded to her, all in their own language, to reassure her. “Dear Future Mom, do not be afraid. Your child will be able to do many things. He will be able to cuddle with you, run with you, talk with you and tell you he loves you. He will be able to go to school like other kids. He will be able to learn to write. If, one day, he is far away, he will be able to write to you. He will be able to work, earn a living and rent an apartment. He will be able to invite you out for dinner…
A Unique Presence that Brings Peace and Unity
… a child with Down Syndrome is always himself, always who he is.
A child with Down Syndrome immediately knows this profound unity of his being that the wisest men spend their lives trying to acquire.
… a child with Down Syndrome is always completely present wherever he is. Far from being a burden on our society, a child with Down Syndrome and, through him, the person with Down Syndrome shed a different and beneficial light on our relationship to the world.
How cherished this person must be who helps us refocus on the essentials, who cannot live with this essential. It is no longer a handicap nor a deficiency but a treasure for humanity.
… we could sum it up by saying that, even if this additional chromosome 21 obviously results in weaknesses and cognitive limitations, it seems rather, on the contrary, that this “difference” enables greater openness of the heart which occurs due to a strong sensitivity and a natural inclination to relationships among people that is simple, without resentment and without ulterior motives.
And that is how, by osmosis, a person with Down Syndrome can become – as long as the social and psychological environment does not oppose it too strongly – a leaven of peace.
We still remember that not so long ago, when Vianney-Marie, our son with Down Syndrome, was only 4 or 5 years old and there was a strain on the parent’s relationship, Vianney would take us by the arm and say “Don’t be afraid Papa Mama, let’s pray,” this help bring us peace and soften our hears!
Jean –François Soubrier – FNDL
What Future ?
In our modern society, a child with Down Syndrome seems condemned to disappear. Yet, in his relationship with the world and with others, a child with Down Syndrome bears witness to a unity that we have trouble attaining.
… the contrast is staggering between these smiling faces, the consensus on the “difference,” the positive speech on insertion and the terrible violent reality that is as unremitting as it is unknown: in France, 96% of babies with Down Syndrome detected in utero are never born. With the progress being made in prenatal testing today, the perspective of the near-disappearance of persons with Down Syndrome is plausible.
Cyril Douillet – OCH
Take a good look at me Marie… In my eyes you will see all the love that a mother has for her daughter. You might forget that humans are conniving and uncompromising. We will still have to fight and prove the pertinence of your coming into this world. If only they took the time to get to know you, maybe the decision-makers would see that the benefits outweigh the costs. Is it not true that a civilized society is a society that is welcoming and which takes care of the most vulnerable.
Anik Larose – AQIS
Let’s continue the tribute to our friends with Down Syndrome
Let us share, loud and clear, and as publicly as possible, that all of us who have had a chance to know someone with Down Syndrome, whether as a family member or a friend, have had our lives transformed by them, deeply!