Churches In Albania are Reversing Down Syndrome’s Stigma

Cydil Waggoner
Cydil Waggoner
How the country’s Christians are bringing long-needed support to disabled children.

As a Christian, Ada Kita of Tirana, Albania, wanted to find a way to demonstrate the compassion of Jesus to her city. Initially, she considered founding a program for the thousands of children living on Tirana’s streets. Eventually, though, she and her husband, International Church Fellowship (ICF) pastor Altin Kita, found insight into a forgotten population in an unexpected place: their own family.

In 2004, Altin’s sister Valentina gave birth to her son Jonathan, a child with Down syndrome. In Albania, if parents discover their child will have Down syndrome prior to birth, medical professionals encourage abortion or provide information about planning for the child to be raised in an orphanage. When parents like Valentina keep their children, they have little or no financial, emotional, and instructional support.

“My sister was heartbroken,” Altin said, recalling his nephew’s diagnosis.

In 2008, however, with help from ICF Tirana, Ada and her friend Annette Van Gorkum of the Netherlands co-founded the Jonathan Center: Albania’s premier organization for development, care, and advocacy for individuals with Down’s and their families. Together, they are changing how people in Tirana and other cities in Albania view children with Down syndrome.

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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Jennifer Ditlevson Haglud