Different, but equal! Three young persons who remove barriers and create opportunities

A person with disabilities is first of all a person with abilities and the creation of a favorable environment for this to develop the personality is the guarantee of personal success and of the success of the community of which such persons form part. Alongside other series that look at 2018 in retrospect, IPN comes with a series of articles about people who live with a disability and about organizations that promote the rights of these people.

“I set the goal of  designing a special device in support of visually impaired persons”

Roman Guțu is visually impaired. He is a specialist in information technology. For several years he has worked for half a day at the Center “Without Barriers” of the State University of Moldova. As the salary is small and the costs are high, he had to look for one more job. This year he started to work as an IT technician at the Technological  Lyceum for Children with Poor Vision. He managed to find this job after several years of searches and numerous refusals. “Some said openly that good sight is needed for such a job. They didn’t even allow me to show them my skills. Others promised they will call me back, but said it only to get rid of me as they didn’t call me later. If I indicated in the CV that I was visually impaired, things remained in suspense and I didn’t get even an email that would inform me that my file was received,” stated the young man.

Besides finding a job, movement through the city for a person with visual impairments is a real challenge that often ends with injuries. Roman related it happened that he remained with the stick he uses to avoid obstacles broken when cars went over it as the drivers were inattentive or negligent. Even if the authorities announced initiatives to ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities, Chisinau, as most of the localities in the country, remains inaccessible. “As a visually impaired person, I have to every time ask someone to tell me what trolleybuses or minibus is coming. Regrettably, I not always get an answer. Tired of such a situation, I set the goal of designing a special device in support of visually impaired persons next year. This will say what the number of the unit of transport that approaches the station is,” stated Roman, who is optimistic he will succeed.

“I want people not to look at us with pity”

Iuliana Tabacari has locomotor disabilities, but the wheelchair didn’t prevent her from getting the desired job. After years of involvement in activities and cooperation with the Association “Motivație”, the young woman took up as social assistant and office manager at the Center of Social Services for Children with Disabilities “Blue Bird” of Hâncești town. “I chose to work in the field so as to be able to support the others. We stage social inclusion activities for children and young people with disabilities, laying emphasis namely on walks in community. The beneficiaries of the Center are encouraged to go to the shop, theater and concerts. They were trained to cope in the community, to obey street security rules, to shop and even to interact with people who, regrettably, most of the times look at us with pity,” she said.

Compared with several years ago, Iuliana now considers the personal life of the persons with disabilities from the Republic of Moldova changed to the better. These became more visible, more active in society. However, there are yet problems related to social inclusion, especially educational inclusion, of persons with disabilities. “The fact that particular children are deprived of the right to benefit from studies, for example some of the children with autism or the Down syndrome, it is a problem. I would like the impediments and barriers to decrease in number. For example, the provision of equipment for persons with locomotor disabilities, namely wheelchairs and verticalizers for the rehabilitation of children and youths, is a big problem,” stated the young women.

Asked what expectations she has in 2019, Iuliana Tabacari said she will continue to work in the field of social inclusion of children with disabilities from her town. “My goal remains the same – to continue to assist the young people with disabilities to develop skills to live independently in the community and to struggle alongside them to create and ensure an accessible and friendly environment here, at home,” she noted.

“I would like public buildings, streets and stations to become accessible”

Ivan Petcoglo is a young man with locomotor disabilities who lives in southern Moldova, in the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia. He is a social assistant and is to obtain a master’s degree from the State University of  Comrat. Ivan said in the region the persons with disabilities find a job with difficulty. “I often tried to find a job as a social assistant, but was refused. They told me there are no free posts,” he stated, noting the employers avoid hiring persons with disabilities and consider them impotent. Ivan found a job at the Center for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of Chisinau and is the representative of this organization in Gagauzia.

“By this activity, I managed to become involved in helping persons with disabilities from Gagauzia and, together with the jurists of the Center, offered legal advice to persons with disabilities and their families on different problems they face. For example, I made a number of approaches to the local authorities, asking to make the public institutions accessible to persons with disabilities. As a result of these approaches, the Comrat district policlinic became accessible to persons with locomotor disabilities, who now have free access to medical services,” Ivan related proudly.

At the end of the year, the young man is satisfied with his accomplishments and in 2019 intends to support the same cause: to ensure the accessibility of public institutions. “I would like all the public buildings, streets and stations to become accessible to persons with disabilities. If these were accessible, we would not need persons who would accompany us, personal assistants and would live independently, as the persons with disabilities abroad do, and the community will perceive us more positively, not like a burden!” said Ivan full of hope.

Ion Ciobanu, IPN

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