Tuesday, 5 January 2010

On the 11th day of Christmas I'd like to introduce ...

the pupils of the school of Down Syndrome Association of Nigeria

Over the past 10 days I've introduced you to people with Down's Syndrome that inspire me for varying reasons, so after my trip to Nigeria last year I had to include these young people.  They have inspired me to try and raise awareness of the work the Down Syndrome Association of Nigeria (DSAN) is doing to improve the lives of children and young people.  


Having seen firsthand the situation in their country, the total lack of provision for health and educational needs makes me realise that whilst we still have much to strive for in countries such as the UK and US, we have made incredible advances for our young people and have much to be grateful for and proud of.  

There is never room for complacency, but whilst we continue to work towards improvements for our own youngsters, we can also use our valuable experience to help those who have a greater need for change, in this way we can help and support them to make advances much sooner.

The young lady in this photo is the inspiration behind DSAN, her mother, Rose Mordi started the Association and works tirelessly as it's President, trying to raise awareness and provide families with positive and realistic expectations for their children.   

This is not an easy task in a country that is seriously under resourced in every way and where knowledge and understanding of Down's Syndrome is very limited, so much so that the birth of child with any form of handicap is seen by many as the result of some kind of curse being placed on the family.  The lack of ante-natal and post-natal care can mean that diagnosis is not made until a baby is at least 4 months old, then of course there is no routine screening for medical issues, so the prognosis for many babies is not good.

Given this background it is easy to understand why the DSAN are proud of their achievements and of the fact that they have a resource centre where they run a school for some of the youngsters.  But I have to tell you that this centre is probably very far from what you imagine - 3 basic rooms, a small courtyard, a small kitchen and one (non-flushing) toilet accessed straight from the classroom.  And because of the distance some of the pupils travel and the lack of transport, many of them stay at the centre overnight during the week, using mattresses that are placed on the classroom floor.

Given all that is against them though, just look at these beautiful young people.  They are beautiful, happy, loving, caring individuals and against all the odds they are achieving and showing their community that they have a valuable part to play.

Please do anything you can to help the work of DSAN, at the very least join their  Facebook group to show your support for the hard job they have ahead of them.  They don't have what we would consider basic health or social care and state education makes no provision for special needs, yet these young people are always clean and well cared for and THEY ARE achieving!  How much more could they do with better provision?

Despite all the negative publicity you may have heard about Nigeria, the people I met were friendly, caring individuals who know there is a lot of work to be done in their country, but they are trying to make a start for some of their most vulnerable citizens and provide them with the opportunity to show just what can be achieved given the opportunity. 

Please watch my photo montage from my trip.


  1. Penny Green, you have taken us to a better and higher level. There is no way we can thank you for breathing a fresh air of inspiration to the lives of these kids and the people supporting them. Thank you for being a part of this vision.

  2. Ayo, it has been my pleasure. I wish I could do more to help your fantastic young people. I hope to get the opportunity to visit them all again in the future and see the progress that has been made, because I know that it will happen with the dedication of the DSAN team in Nigeria and here in the UK.

  3. Penny, your hard work is paying off in the most beautiful way! I pray for this group's success in the face of poverty, ignorance (on the part of others), and isolation.

    You are doing the work of God, and are an inspiration to many.


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