CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
A wheel-chaired Santa graced the Christmas Celebration of the Persons with Disabilities (PWD). This radical imagery of Santa on wheel chair rather than his regular sleigh or dance rung hard in the minds of the participants. 8th December 2017 marked a one of a kind celebration with over 250 people and over 100 persons with disabilities who made it to this historic eventful Christmas celebration. Neither the foggy winter nor the chill wind that brushed the people could move the people present as they joyfully participated in some soul inspiring and mind boggling renditions of the Children with disabilities. The Children enthralled the participants by their thought provoking and energized engagement.
NCCI-IDEA’s 2nd Christmas Celebration of the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) embedded with the core PWD expectations of inclusion, justice, identity and dignity. The children and the persons with disabilities, who came in numbers to spell the good news of the season, ornamented the celebration. Before the children presented their artistic Christmas messages, the people who came there were inquisitive on seeing question marks everywhere. This inquisitivity drew the audience to reflect on what that question marks could mean.
The Children with disabilities (CWD) moved the audience with their rhythmic dance in spite of their hearing impairment and enactments in spite of their physical challenges, through which they spoke their expectation from the people present. Institutions like Jeevoday Special School, Prerna Social Development Welfare Society, Utkhana Home for the Aged and Disabled, SAKSHAM, The Bajaj Avengers Biker’s Club, Church of North India – Social Service Institute, The Talking Hands restaurant and several interfaith organizations performed and participated in this inclusive Christmas celebration.
The Children with Disabilities re-told the Story of Christmas in a manner in which they understood. They presented 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 fete. To the end of the program, the CWD’s and PWD’s went home with joy and laughter in their hearts, smiling and giggling with the Christmas gifts in their hands.
The advocates of the rights and dignity of PWD’s and CWD’s appreciated the Christmas celebration as it facilitated an interfaith interface. This set a model of an inclusive celebration, a celebration in which there is no discrimination or exclusion. During the Celebration, NCCI-IDEA called out the participants for a pledge saying, “I will uphold the Dignity and Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I commit to advocate just and inclusive communities.” People inspired by the performance of the children rose from their seats to leave their comfort zones to autograph the pledge, committing to be agents of justice and inclusion.
This Christmas celebration sent a strong message to the larger Church and Society, a message of Transparent Inclusion, Physical Accessibility, and Mainstreaming PWD concerns, as the core of every individual’s ethics and spirituality. The society and the church were challenged to march on ramps, as they wheel chaired towards Just and Inclusive communities.
The National Council of Churches in India – Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment along with NCCI- Youth Concerns, and NCCI-Unity and Mission facilitated this Christmas Celebration of Persons with Disabilities, on 8th December 2017, in the NCCI Campus, Nagpur. Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary-NCCI, brought the Christmas message, speaking on the question marks: “Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me thus?’ Am I not my brother’s/sister’s keeper? Who is my neighbor? What does the Lord require of us? ” The delegates present went back with that inquisitiveness to find answers to the questions the children raised through their thought-provoking presentations. Mrs. Cynthia Shinde, Coordinator-IDEA, conceptualized the celebration with the accompaniment of Rev. Christopher Rajkumar. Mr. Vinod Shemron, Miss. Wapangyingla Ao, Miss. Romena Gorai and Mr. Jeswin Rajan served as stewards. Mr. Jianthaolung Gonmei, the joint co-ordinator proposed the vote of thanks. This Christmas celebration was anchored by Mrs. Meenu Meshramkar.
Mrs. Glory Cynthia Shinde
NCCI – Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment
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