Living your life twice

Lees verder

McKenzie is a relatively new client at Lentekind, as he has only been here since December 2022. He came with his mother, brother and 2 sisters to the Netherlands in 2022. Looking for a place that would understand and love children/adults like McKenzie, a helpful social worker introduced Akiba to Lentekind.

My kid is more than a Trisomy 21 child

McKenzie has Trisomy 21, also known as Down’s Syndrome. Akiba: “I was 19 years old when I had McKenzie. I immediately saw that there was something special and great about him. I did not know that he had Down’s Syndrome, but I saw a beautiful angel and fell in love with my son. Later I realized that my son is more than a Trisomy 21 kid, and I felt this love really strong.”

“It is a privilege being around special needs children because they put you to define who you are to yourself and most importantly, to them. You are forced to change your life because you have to learn to understand them. McKenzie fully depends on me, he can’t speak; he can only say mama. I have no choice but to try to understand how he feels, what he wants, how he is trying to understand his environment. Although my son can’t speak, he can show me that he loves me and that he sees what we do for him. Children with special needs can see if you are welcoming or not. Their feelings go deeper than the average person may think. You get the opportunity to live twice: you have to manage their lives and still live your own life. It drives you in a total other dynamic way of thinking.”

"Although my son can't speak, he can show me that he loves me"

Kids with special needs enlighten the world

The first couple of days, McKenzie had a hard time getting used to Lentekind. Akiba: “When the bus driver brought him home, I could see from his expression that it had been difficult. He really ran into me; led me into the house! You left me with these strange people! The bus driver smiled to me: this boy is really happy to be home again. Now, he is happy to go. He understands what is going on, when it is time to go to school he willingly and happily goes. He is happy to be at Lentekind and happy to be home.”

Akiba has a great affection for children with special needs and would love to take on a study to be a professional in this sector. “These kids don’t judge you, you have to do the best you can, and feel the energy of love from them. They just know how to love and they enlighten the world. They have a force with them that puts you in a position to do good.”

Lentekind learned it from your child!

Akiba says she really respects the caretakers. “They are not doing it as a regular job, they were inspired by special needs kids. The impact that these kids make is really special. You can’t learn that from books, you have to experience it. You have to learn the language of feelings.” She has a message for parents of children with special needs. “Finding the right institute is first of all finding the right professionals who care for your child in trying to understand them and see what the child requires from you. An institute is just a building. Only with great human beings who sit down and get to know your child, who are inspired by your child, you get a great organization. McKenzie is teaching you and me. Remember that, Lentekind learned it from your child!”


Would you like to know more about working with a hero like McKenzie or what impact you can make as a volunteer?  The next pages are in Dutch, please use Google Translate if necessary.