The National Council of Churches in India – Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment organized “Christmas of People with Disabilities” on 1st December 2018 at the NCCI Campus, Civil Lines, Nagpur. This is an annual celebration of the Children with Disabilities celebrating Christmas for others. This celebration is organized on the eve of the Advent (Christmas) Season every year, thereby setting off Christmas Celebrations in the city.
This celebration is to remember a child (Jesus) who was born during the cold winter in the wilderness of Judea as a migrant child. His birth heralded glad tidings of great Joy to all creation; the joy of inclusion and social justice – the justice of bringing the wise men and shepherds together. Thus, began the Christmas celebration, in the NCCI campus, with a gathering of over 350 people including over 200 Children and People with Disabilities; it was indeed a grand event. The children with disabilities and the persons with disabilities, who gave expression to the good news of the season, ornamented this celebration. The Children with Disabilities (CWD) in particular, enthralled the audience with their dances, songs and enactments, through which they declared the Gospel of inclusion to the people present at the celebration.
Several faith-based and secular organizations that promote, propagate and inculcate the culture of inclusivity in the societies at large, participated in this celebration, namely Ashirwad Kanti, Jeevoday Special School, Prerana Social Development Welfare Soci
ety, Untkhana – Home for the Aged and Disabled, SAKSHAM, CNI – Social Service Institute, Shramdeep, St. Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary and Talking Hands Restaurant.
The Story of Christmas and the message on inclusions were articulated in a manner in which the Children with Disabilities understood it. They showcased an Autistic Joseph, a Down-Syndrome Mary, a Commodified Baby Jesus, and Santa on a Wheel-Chair. This radical yet conventional Christmas message intrigued the hearts of the ‘abled-audience’ who attended the Christmas Extravaganza. At the end of the program the CWDs and PWDs received gifts from the hands of the Santa on wheel-chair.
This Christmas celebration created an interfaith interface, which was appreciated by the advocates of the rights and dignity of PWDs and CWDs, thereby setting a model for an inclusive celebration – a celebration in which there will be no discrimination or exclusion. During the celebration, NCCI-IDEA invited the audience to express their solidarity by putting on a disability ribbon of commitment implying, “I will uphold the Dignity and Rights of Persons with Disabilities and I commit to advocate for Just and inclusive communities.” Thus the audience was inspired to come out of their “able” comfort zones to pin the disability ribbon on the vestments, thereby committing to be agents of justice and inclusion.
This Christmas, NCCI-IDEA passed a strong message to the Church and Society at large. It was a message of Transparent Inclusion, Physical Accessibility, and Mainstreaming PWD concerns, as the core of every individual’s ethics and spirituality. Thus, the society and the church will march shoulder to shoulder with PWDs along with their ramps, wheel-chairs, brailles, sign language and others enabling aids towards Just and Inclusive communities.
Mrs. Rachna Singh, Member of Executive Committee of NCCI and the Principal of the St. Ursula Girls High School and Junior College was the Guest of Honour. She encouraged the audience to promote and practice the culture of inclusion from family to the society at large. She also assured and pledged to practice and promote inclusion among her colleagues and make their institutions further accessible.
Mrs. Pushpa Waghmare. Mrs. Aradhana Upathiyay, Rev. Sr. Ida, St. Joshna Mary. Mr. Shrish , Mr. Akash Ramtake and Mrs. Sowmya Yohannan shared greetings of the season to the Children and the audience.
Mr. Anant Samuel Waghmare and Mrs. Divya Anant Waghmare shared the Christmas Message and encouraged people and children with disabilities and their parents and siblings that they are graced by the blessings of God, and the blessings of God will accompany them in their cries and joys through their life experiences. Further they emphasized that their own child is perfectly created by God in God’s own image. Many were encouraged by the Christmas message.
Mrs. Zomuani Gaikwad, wife of the General Secretary of NCCI, distributed the Christmas gifts, and trophies, while Mr. Amber Prakash presented several Christmas songs for the children with disabilities. Rev. Zuchon Ovung offered the opening prayer. Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar, Director of the NCCI -IDEA and Executive Secretary of the NCCI Missions welcomed the gathering with an introduction to the Christmas of the Disabled. Miss. Jenifa Rani, Deacon Yesudas Pandit, Miss Pranita Sandela and Mr. Jeswin Rajan served as volunteers. Mrs. Lalremsiami of the NCCI – IDEA proposed the Vote of Thanks.
Reported by: Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar, Director, NCCI -IDEA <firstname.lastname@example.org> +91 9422293599