When Pamela De Almeida took her daughter Sophia out to a coffee shop one day, she knew it was possible, she’d get strange looks or rude comments. At that point, it wasn’t so uncommon a thing to happen in her life.
Sure enough, once at the cafe, she noticed two women staring at her daughter and whispering. And they didn’t seem to care the discomfort they caused Pamela.
Little Sophia has Down Syndrome.
“I sat there and watched these two women crane their necks to get a better look at her,” she later wrote on Facebook, “completely oblivious to the fact that I was staring right back. Today it bothered me. It really bothered me.”
Pamela was already upset when a couple came near. “Just then, a couple approached me, and I thought, ‘Oh great! More people who want to take a closer look!'” she said.
But then the unexpected happened.
The man leaned over and gave Sophia a high five and handshake, greeting the little girl happily.
He told Pamela his own story. He spoke about watching the news the night before, and seeing a mother, so similar to Pamela, speaking about having a baby with a disability, defending her decision to keep her child.
Pamela was in shock and soon, in tears.
“He said, ‘The point is, you never know a person’s impact on the world. You can never know what a person is able to do unless you give them a chance’,” said Pamela.
“He looked at me just before he turned to walk away and said, ‘You are a beautiful person. Your daughter is beautiful. Congratulations!'”
Pamela cried. She reflected on her special experience. “That man was the first complete stranger to ever congratulate me on the birth of my daughter Sophia. He was the first complete stranger to recognize her WORTH. Her VALUE. Her BEAUTY,” she wrote on Facebook.
“In a world where my daughter’s life is whispered about, where she is stared at, this man saw her IMPORTANCE.”
Pamela is a Canada-based photographer, and runs a Facebook page called Slice of Life. It’s a page dedicated to “capturing my perfectly imperfect life of raising two daughters; one who was born with Down Syndrome. This is my journey unscripted and unfiltered through journalistic photography and written thoughts.”