FIRST COMES THE FANTASY
For some, listening to the poor and marginalized amidst us can be as easy as stepping up their front door and talking to people in their local commun-ities. But even the most knowledgeable advocates may struggle to communicate what they know to non-disabled people in a way that others may not appreciably understand and believe.
Too often, the wrong messages or reports made to help others understand that poverty and exclusion among people with disab-ilities are not as bad as they appear, or are just “isolated cases” or “over-simplified” and are not of any worth for targeted efforts to provide help and support where it is needed.
Here’s an example that has been doing its rounds over the Internet lately:
Watch The Video
NEXT COMES REALITY
All poor people are invisible whether or not they have disabilities. But people, who are deaf, blind, have mobility impairments, autism, psycho-social disabil-ities, or other disabilities are also “invisible” in society whether or not they are poor.
Disabled and poor people, their stories, and their ideas for how to solve their own problems, are too rarely heard when people with good intentions make bad decisions.
Faith in Families has spoken to people with intellectual disabilities and their families about their own life experiences not leaving to chance that our readers might pick up some romanticized idea, as the video above portrays them to be, of who they are and what they really feel.
And even as we respect their privacy by having their names and other details remain anonymous, here are but a few of their voices that paint a clearer picture of their realities.
“Poverty is what I saw in my mother’s dying eyes because we couldn’t afford the best medical treatment.”
“Being deaf and poor are words that don’t explain anything of what I have lived, what I have seen and what I have felt. Poverty is pain. It’s what I see every day on the streets and what I see when I open my fridge, and there is nothing.”
“Everybody forgets your existence, your name, your address and every-thing about you. Maybe they’re afraid of being contaminated by poverty and misery when I come knocking their door.”
“Mainly, when you see that all your dreams are gone, and everything you have done to try and achieve them is lost then it is poverty.”
“You’re maybe wondering if I have any uncle’s aunts or cousins from whom I can seek help, but you actually know when you’re family is the poorest of all the extended ones. Nobody comes to visit you or asks about you. Nobody offers you help even if they definitely know that you absolutely need it. Nobody of them even greets you when they run into you in a public place especially if they’re with some friends, because they’re ashamed of you.”
“I wish I had food in my stomach today. My back aches and my body feels weak. Last week, I had eaten only beans. Sometimes I only eat two or three times a week. Having to sleep in one room with the rest of my family on the hard, uncomfortable floor and listen to my younger brother cough all night, I don’t get much sleep. I never know what the next day may bring. I just hope to survive.”
“For a poor disabled person like me everything is terrible, illness, humil-iation, shame. We are cripples; we are afraid of everything; we depend on everyone. No one needs us.”