The cultural hall of the Christiansborg Stake Center in Accra, Ghana, was filled with happy students in bright yellow shirts on May 27, 2017. Along with their teachers, families and friends, they were gathered to pay tribute to Mrs. Salome Francois, founder of their school, The New Horizon Special School, and express thanks to the families of the students.
Mrs. Francois, who believes that, “every child, whether handicapped or not, has the right develop to his or her fullest capabilities,” began the school in 1972. Its mission is “to provide education and vocational training for children and adults with special needs and develop each child's potential to the full so that he or she can lead productive and satisfying life.”
The occasion gave members of the Cantonments Ward, who, for the last several years have given a day of service to the school, an opportunity to mix and mingle with the students, whom they had not previously met because the school was never in session when they were there.
Sister Carla Anderson, a senior missionary who volunteers weekly at the school, and the staff of New Horizon organized a wonderful program of music and dance numbers performed by students, ward youth, missionaries, the M. Miles Dance Academy, and the Accragio Choir. Mary Richards, president of the Cantonments Ward Young Women organization, accompanied many of the participants and performed a beautiful flute solo. A few of the youth joined with some students to present a reading of a special poem that has great significance to Mrs. Francois and the families of New Horizon. A tender moment came students presented special thank you cards they had made for their families.
The highlight of the event was the tribute given to Mrs. Francois. Sister Anderson spoke of the love Mrs. Francois had always given to these special children, and presented her with a framed picture Christ and the Nephite Children and a Book of Mormon. She told her of Christ visiting the New World after His resurrection and how He blessed the children. The reference to the story, along with the poem, Heaven’s Very Special Child, were printed on the back of the picture.
Mrs. Francois was deeply touched by the honor and thanked everyone. The afternoon was capped off with a tasty assortment of cookies, provided by senior missionary sisters, individual meat turnovers, baked by members of the Cantonments Ward, and extra-special yellow melon, freshly harvested from the garden of the Area medical advisor, Elder Nels Anderson.
Heaven's Very Special Child
A meeting was held quite far from Earth!
It's time again for another birth.
Said the Angels to the LORD above,
This Special Child will need much love.
His progress may be very slow,
Accomplishments he may not show.
And he'll require extra care
From the folks he meets down there.
He may not run or laugh or play,
His thoughts may seem quite far away,
In many ways he won't adapt,
And he'll be known as handicapped.
So let's be careful where he's sent,
We want his life to be content.
Please LORD, find the parents who
Will do a special job for you.
They will not realize right away
The leading role they're asked to play,
But with this child sent from above
Comes stronger faith and richer love.
And soon they'll know the privilege given
In caring for their gift from Heaven.
Their precious charge, so meek and mild,
Is heaven's very special child.
By Edna Massimilla