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Harmonious celebrations in Echuca

Community Living and Respite Services celebrated World Down Syndrome Day and Harmony Day on Friday

JESS CRAIG March 24, 2014 4:10am

Pictured are (from left) Suzanna Barry, Sheree Arnold, Anne Arnold and Roopesh Ravindradas.

A sense of belonging, no matter who you are or where you come from, was promoted at Community Living and Respite Service’s Harmony Day event.

The day, at Number 4, coincided with World Down Syndrome Day.

Guest speakers Roopesh Ravindradas and Anne Arnold were well received by the crowd, their individual stories touching those who gathered.

Mr Ravindradas arrived in Australia from India seven years ago and said without the support of an Australian man, he would have found it even more challenging.

‘‘I can never give anything back to that man, but he showed me that harmony is not about one person or one country, it’s about the people you meet,’’ Mr Ravindradas said.

‘‘There were many positives and negatives about leaving India and it was certainly a challenge, but people have shown that they accept me and that has increased my self-esteem.’’

He provided insight in to the cultural differences between India and Australia, speaking about his arranged marriage, which was organised by his parents.

‘‘We’ve been married now for five years,’’ Mr Ravindradas said with a smile.

Mr Ravindradas has worked with CLRS for six months.

Mrs Arnold spoke about her daughter Sheree being born with Down Syndrome, the challenges she has faced and her many achievements.

‘‘Sheree has never let her disability stop her from doing anything,’’ Mrs Arnold said.

‘‘It’s important that those with a disability are seen as ordinary people first, and their disability comes second.’’

Sheree was Echuca’s first Special Olympics athlete and lives independently, with some support.

Community Living and Respite Services chief executive Suzanna Barry said it was important to mark World Down Syndrome Day and Harmony Day, as both recognised the importance of acceptance and belonging.

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