When Darnelia Saraspe’s 17-year-old son, who was born with Down Syndrome, went missing she felt it was the end of everything.
Frantically looking for her son Vince Khen Cyrus for two days and two nights, the 42-year-old mother finally found him in a welfare center.
However, the center will not release her son until she presents proof that she is the mother. And this added pain to her injury.
Such was just one of the stories shared by parents of children with Down Syndrome during a forum organized by Norfil Foundation Inc., a non-profit, non-government social welfare organization, and sponsored by the Cebu Provincial Government on Thursday, April 11.
Norfil, which is celebrating its 35 years of giving, also organized an art seminar and inclusion drawing contest in Capitol dome for children with disabilities and for abandoned and neglected children who are under foster care.
With the theme, “Living with Down, this is my story,” the forum discussed numerous issues like development and behavior of individual with Down’s Syndrome; common gross motor issues and sensor integration issues of persons with Down Syndrome; Down Syndrome management; and speech and language communication across life span of persons with Down’s Syndrome.
At the open forum, participating parents, including Darnelia, shared their struggles, joy and the feeling of fulfillment in raising a child with Down Syndrome.
Darnelia narrated how she repeatedly lost her hyperactive son Vince who loves roaming around but cannot find his way home.
One time when they had a picnic in the northern town of Cordova, Vince went astray to a hut that sits on a huge rock, which is accessible during low tide. But the hut and the rock get separated from the mainland during high tide.
While Vince was stranded and waiting for the tide to subside, Darnelia was anxiously searching for every cottage and cove.
When the tide was knee-deep, Vince crossed the muddy channel.
Darnelia, who already abandoned the idea of finding him alive, found Vince roaming on the beach at midnight.
“Usahay ba, nabalaka na ka, gikapoy pa ka, dayon makadungog ka og mga istoryang di mao. Sus, kalami bugnoon oy,” a teary-eyed Darnelia said during the forum.
Activities that promote the welfare of persons with disabilities (PWDs) are included in the Six-Key Development Agenda of Gov. Hilario P. Davide III and Vice Gov. Agnes A. Magpale. It falls under the health and social services agenda.
The other development agenda are countryside development; education and technical vocational training; environmental protection, climate change and disaster risk management; infrastructure development, tourism and investment promotion; law and order.