BOY WITH DOWN’S SYNDROME IS JOYFUL FACE OF SAT-7 KIDS’ CHRISTMAS
SAT-7 KIDS models the seasonal spirit of love and acceptance with a groundbreaking Christmas special. In keeping with the Christian broadcaster’s year-round inclusivity, which is uncommon in the Middle East, among the young guests are children with disabilities – including a young boy with Down’s syndrome – and a Syrian refugee.
“I love Christmas because it’s a joyful season. Jesus came for us. I want to thank Him for all the wonderful things He gives us,” says Rudy, speaking on SAT-7 KIDS’ Christmas special on 22 December. Asked what he is grateful for, Rudy, who has Down’s syndrome, says, “My parents. I love them, and I’m proud of them.”
Rudy, one of an inclusive group of eight children who appeared on the show, also shares that he is thankful for answered prayers this Christmas. “One day I was praying to Jesus for my family,” he says. “Then we got the news that my brother had been in a bad accident – but he had emerged from it safe and sound.”
Called For Your Sake, the live special tells the Christmas story showing viewers the gift of Jesus’ birth is for everyone, regardless of circumstances. “Jesus chose to be born in a manger, not in a castle, to teach us to be humble like Him and to love one another just as He loved us,” says beloved, longstanding SAT-7 presenter Marianne Daou, who hosts the show with her husband Rawad. Between the Bible storytelling, Christmas carols, and interviews from the brightly-coloured nativity set, the presenters take calls from excited viewers.
Also among the youngsters interviewed live in the studio is Rachid, a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon. Rachid tells some of his story, including what life was like when his family first fled Syria. “It was difficult,” he says. “I had to study at home while both my parents went out to work. My siblings and me remained at home alone.” To help process what he has experienced, Rachid has developed a talent for rap music. He raps live on camera about a moment he remembers – when a fire erupted in his school, forcing the children to evacuate as the flames spread.
Now, Rachid says, he leans on God for his security. “I pray that God will bless my days and protect me and my friends, so we can have a peaceful day,” he shares. Marianne and Rawad also speak with brothers Rafaello and Michael Angelo. As Rawad sits with his arm around Michael Angelo, who has a cognitive disability, Rafaello shares that he sings in his church choir, later joining Marianne in a song.
Among the hundreds of viewers who got in touch during the show is Sally from the Holy Land, who shares, “Merry Christmas to you and Rawad. I hope this Christmas is good and full of joy. Jesus loves us.” The presenters also heard an encouraging message from SAT-7 CEO Rita Elmounayer, who says:
“Rawad and Marianne, I want to thank you for the journey that you have been on with SAT-7 since you were children yourselves. We make change little by little in our Arab World, especially through the lives of children. May the Lord bless you.”
SAT-7 KIDS promotes the rights and inclusion of child refugees and of children with disabilities – who are often excluded and isolated in the Middle East – year-round, including with the drama City of Stars.