Night to shine: The royalty night of Children With Disability

Photo by Pius Miti

Did you know that over a billion people in the world live with some form of disability?

That’s 15% of the world’s population.

The Person with disabilities Act 2006 defines disability as “a substantial functional limitation of daily life activities caused by physical, mental or sensory impairment and environmental barriers resulting in limited participation.”

People with disabilities have generally poorer health, lower education achievements, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities. This is largely due to the lack of services available to them and the many obstacles they face in their everyday lives.(World report on disability)

Bridging the gap between PWDs and the able-bodied is without a doubt a challenge, yet both parties desire to be accepted equally in society. The people at night to shine thought it important to take of one day in a year to celebrate and recognise PWDs.

Night to Shine is an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love, for people with special needs ages 14 and older. On one night, February 9, 2018, more than 540 churches from around the world came together to host Night to Shine for approximately 90,000 honored guests through the support of 175,000 volunteers!

A girl poses for a photo on the red carpet at the Night to shine event at Watoto church. Photo by Pius Miti

Night to shine collaborates with local churches around the world to mobilise PWDs in their communities for this annual celebration. In Uganda, they collaborate with Watoto church.

I was blessed to be one of the 175,000 volunteers who helped out at the event that happened at Watoto church, Kyengera.

I have always wanted to push my boundaries, to put on the shoes of not only someone other than myself, but also, someone who sees the world so differently from the majority. And on this day, I did.

Winnie, Solomon Hellen and I at Watoto church Kyengera during the Night to shine event. Photo by Pius Miti.

The children were welcomed to the venue in a royalty style, I’m talking massive sensational drums, percussion and astounding cultural dancers. Strolling their wheel chairs with the help of their caretakers, the children looked so happy. And indeed they were. The music painted a ray of sunshine upon their faces. Oh! The smiles on their faces! Even though some of them hadn’t the ability to talk, I could almost see their souls glowing with gratefulness through those smiles.

One of the volunteers does make-up on one of the children at Night to shine. Photo by Pius Miti.

You could tell it’s been a long time since they last had a genuine smile. We then proceeded them to the make-up tent where they were to receive facial make up, you know, like the one the Kings and Queens that they are would deserve, after which they walked over the red carpet, posed for photographs with each other then proceeded to the sitting area where the event was to go down.

The decorated sitting area at Watoto church Kyengera. Photo by Pius Miti

To say that the sitting area was amazing would be an understatement. From a distance, it looked to be made entirely of bits of gold, but when you were close enough, you could see that those were hundreds, probably thousands of glowing lights. It seemed to grow right out of the ceiling and spread out like a humongous chandelier. The decorations reflected the light like many shards of glass in the afternoon sun.

The host of ceremony took it away, through to the speeches from some of the children who represented their communities. Brilliant speeches, talking about his they experience life as PWDs; the good, the bad and the ugly that go through, their achievements and their aspirations.

It was an eye-opener to see software engineers and Information technology graduates who are PWDs. Did you know that Stephen Hawking, a PWD is one of the greatest academians in Britain?

So, the children were served a sumptuous meal followed by ice cream and later was the closing dance. What a day it was!

Special thanks to the people at Timtebow foundation and Watoto church who find it necessary and important to celebrate the lives of children with disabilities.

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