The title translation of this video is [Eden International Foundation] The Slow Flying Angel Short Film.
If you don't understand Mandarin, while you watch the film, read the expressions on people's faces, listen to their tone, and observe their body language.
A quick summary of the film:
It is about how a mother, who faces social exclusion, stigma, and shame because her son has Downs Syndrome, speaks up for herself and her son in a beautiful way.
Full summary of the film:
This film starts with a mother and her son, who has Downs Syndrome, walking a busy street. While they walk, the mother tries to take off her son's jacket, but he is distracted by something else that we cannot seen on camera. When she has finished helping him take off his jacket and roll up his sleeves, the camera zooms in on her holding fast to his hand. At this point they have stopped in the middle of the sidewalk so that the mother can give her son a drink of water, and there is a couple who passes by. The man smirks and looks at the woman while she glances at the mom and her son and pulls the man away from them.
When the boy finishes drinking water, he tries to wander away from his mom, but she again holds tightly to his hand and brings her back to him. Through this whole introduction, the mother is very aware of her surroundings and of the safety and needs of her son. Suddenly, the first dialogue comes from a woman getting out of a cab in a rush telling someone on the phone that she's finally arrived at her destination.
The mother recognizes the woman who just got out of the cab and sees where she is going. She finds her in a cafe with a group of other women with their children, happily ordering food and catching up. The mother pulls out her cellphone and calls the woman who had come out of the cab. The camera glimpses at her cell phone where there is a bunch of phone numbers of friends from her days in school. As she is distracted with the phone call, her son walks towards the edge of the sidewalk about to step onto oncoming traffic, which is visibly terrifying for her as she pulls him back towards her.
When she answers the phone, she tells her friend who she is, while the woman looks at her friends confused because she does not recognize her name. However, the woman responds saying, "It's been so long." The mother agrees that it has been so long since they have met and asks how this old friend has been. The old friend responds that she's been doing okay, and she's currently working at the office, even though the mother and the audience know that is not true.
As the conversation is going on, the friends in the cafe notice that the mother is outside while the mother asks the friend why she is never invited to hangout with their old group of friends. The old friend responds dismissively that it's because the mother must be so busy taking care of her child that they assumed she wouldn't have time, until she realizes that the mother is outside the cafe.
At this point, all of the friends wave at the mother to come and join them. The mother refuses a couple of times; however, when the group of old friends notice her son, they all look awkward and uncomfortable. It is at this moment that she decides to go into the cafe. All the friends quickly stand up and make room for her, but if you notice, some of the mothers are holding their children closer as if protecting them from the mother and her son.
Then when the mother puts her son in a high chair next to one of the other sons, that mother quickly puts her arm around her son in protection and pulls him closer to herself. In the next frame, the boy with Downs Syndrome tries to pet the dog of one of the old friends, and the old friend responds by pulling her dog away from him, looking rather afraid.
One friend speaks up saying, "We know that raising a child is really busy and difficult. Furthermore, when you have a child like that I think..." The original friend coughs and looks harshly at the one who was speaking.
Finally, the mother takes her son and puts him in her lap and says, "My llittle An An isn't normal, but he also isn't sick. He just needs a little more care and looking after than most kids. Because of Downs Syndrome, he may be a little slower than other kids, but he has a really cute and wonderful name. His name is Slow Flying Angel." Little An An says something, and his mother responds saying, "Good Little An An. You will always be mommy's heaven." [translation is not perfect!]
The old friend that the mother had originally called reaches out her hand and puts it on top of the mother's hand, finally looking her in the eyes.
The translation of the end of the video's message is:
There's always imperfection in this world. Some people choose not to look, not to hear, not to care or not to do anything. It is not because they are cold-hearted, ignorant, it is because they are scared. One in every 15 children has Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome is not a disease. If we can provide early intervention for children with Down Syndrome between 0-6 years old, they would have a greater opportunity of catching up to the "norm". It may take you more time and patience to understand these Slow Flying Angels, sometimes even a simple gesture of holding hands would provide so much support for the child and the parents and keep pushing them forward. Every child is important, Eden Soul Welfare Foundation invites you to extend your loving hand for the common good of all children.
Use People-first language:
Instead of addressing someone as a "Down Syndrome child", address him/her as "a child with Down Syndrome". Down Syndrome is just part of the child's identity, there are many traits and adjectives that can be used to describe the child. So it is important for us to remember this simple act of empowerment that we can all take to empower others.
Translation by Yanyi Weng
This short film always moves me to tears because I can understand the social stigma placed about families who have children with special needs. At the same time, I can also feel the strength, power, and love from the mother. I feel the same strong urge for people to deeply understand how much my brother has transformed my life. I also love this film because this is such a common story that I rarely see in the American context of Downs Syndrome. There is often more celebration, which I fully support. However, this commentary about the challenges for parents and families resonates with my experiences as someone who grew up in a shaming culture.