21 March 2017

World Down Syndrome Day – Celebrating Tatiana’s story of hope

Tatiana

Tatiana isn’t special because she has Down Syndrome. She’s special because she’s Tatiana.

To celebrate World Down Syndrome Day, this is her story:

Tatiana is six years old and one of the bravest little girls you will ever meet.

Because she was born with Down Syndrome, no one believed that Tatiana had a future. She had to fight for her life to prove them wrong.

Tatiana spent the first four years of her life confined to a cot in an orphanage in Moldova. No one cuddled her or comforted her when she cried. No one talked to her or sang to her. No one took time to teach her the simplest things.

By the time she was nearly five years old, Tatiana couldn’t speak or walk. She couldn’t eat solid food because she had only ever been force-fed liquidized food from a bottle. She was tiny for her age and fighting for survival.

This is what the orphanages do to children. They don’t protect them, they harm them.  Children in orphanages are often subject to high levels of abuse and neglect.  The impact of this can last a lifetime. Some don’t survive at all.

Hope and Homes for Children works to close orphanages by finding safe, loving families for children whatever their needs.  And the family that we found for Tatiana has transformed her life. Angela and John are a couple in their sixties with grown-up children of their own.  Unlike many people in their community, they see Tatiana as a unique little girl, who needs love, not just a child with a particular condition.

Tatiana and foster mum

“People in the village ask me, “Why did you take this child?  Why couldn’t you take a healthy one?” Angela says. “ But I do not pay attention to these words; they mean nothing to me.  I want Tatiana to be raised with love and warmth and affection.  A child is like a tree; if you support a tree when it’s young and take care of it, it will grow and develop. We will do the same for Tatiana.”

It’s two years now since Tatiana left the orphanage to live with Angela and John.  Thanks to their love and care, and her own courage and determination, she has made great progress. Today Tatiana is a playful little girl who can walk and even run. She loves to sing and dance and she is learning to speak. She goes to nursery and she is making friends.

“Tatiana is full of optimism and she has so much potential,” Angela says. “Down Syndrome is not a disease. It’s not something that cannot be overcome. Tatiana is a delight and she is clever. She just needed someone to help her.  It would be good for people to understand that no child should live in an orphanage: they all deserve families.”