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Special friends celebrate Christmas their way

KOTA KINABALU  – Wesley, Dolores and Caesar got to their feet and  started rocking to the beat of Jingle Bell Rock, oblivious to the stares of those around.

Wesley, Dolores and Caesar were among the 36 “special friends” brought together with their parents and guardians, supporters and benefactors, for their annual pre-Christmas celebration at the basement of Sacred Heart Parish Centre here on 16 Dec 2017.

These ‘special friends,’ as they are known, belong to the Special Ministry for People with Developmental Mental Disabilities (SMPMD), under the care of the Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish.

Each year, faithful to their tradition, the SMPMD, led by Peter Siburat and spiritual adviser Sister Genevieve Nicholas, organised this much-looked-forward-to event.

The highlights were receiving the gifts and savouring the Christmas food spread.

Though they suffer from disabilities such as William syndrome, down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, stroke, speech and learning disorder, these ‘special friends’ mingled freely and made brief encounters with those present.

Currently ten regular ‘advocates’ take care of them weekly, preparing them for Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion.  Among other activities, SMPMD organise Advocate-Children sessions, Bible sharing, and interacting with other communities.

The SMPMD needs more volunteers to respond to be ‘advocates.’   ‘Advocate’ means committing and giving oneself to ‘one-to-one’ care. – CS

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