Veslas koffert (Vesla’s Suitcase) is an actual suitcase given to parents of newborn children with Down syndrome in Norway. The suitcase is filled with homemade knits for the baby, a toy, a recent book on Down syndrome, useful information about local and countrywide support organizations as well as personal stories from the mothers behind this initiative. Veslas koffert is inspired by Jack’s Basket and was founded in 2014 by six relatively new mothers to children with Down syndrome.
When the team behind Veslas koffert first received the news that our children had Down syndrome, we were overwhelmed, to say the least. The first weeks and months were filled with mixed emotions; joy, fear, shock, grief, relief and anger. Many of us felt alone trying to process all the feelings we experienced while at the same time caring for an infant, receiving additional medical information and adjusting to our new lives. We believe that many new parents to babies with Down syndrome can recognize this loneliness. More often than not, there’s only one baby with Down syndrome born at a specific hospital in a specific week (or maybe even month or year). One’s own feelings of shock and anger contrast heavily with those of the happy mothers and fathers surrounding them in the maternity ward. We want to let new parents to children with Down syndrome know that these feelings are completely normal, we have had them too! These feelings are necessary; they must be felt, accepted and dealt with.
The suitcase can be seen as a symbol of the journey new parents are about to embark on. As we are wishing the new families well, we also want to make them aware of the Down syndrome network here in Norway. There are many who have made this journey before and who will travel together with the new families. We encourage new families to reach out to the existing community for guidance, information and friendships. There is a whole network of families and organizations waiting out there. We hope that Veslas koffert will make adjusting to the family’s «new normal» easier.
Veslas koffert is a charitable organization which relies on donations, both monetary and knitted. Please contact us for further information in English on how to contribute!