Running from 3 November to 3 December, South Africa commemorates National Disability Rights Awareness Month. A month which highlights the rights of the disabled—rights, which at times are ignored by society at large along with the people whom they belong too.
Therefore in light of the month, MediHub KZN felt it crucial to chat with a person who works with these precious souls, being, Jennifer Pillay of Esperanza Special Needs School in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal who points out several misconceptions surrounding disabled people. “People often look at disabled people and think that they are dangerous. Yet, they are extremely loving and caring individuals who love to interact with others.”
With 65 learners at the special needs school, their disabilities ranging from Down Syndrome to Autism and Cerebral Palsy coupled with visually impaired children, Jennifer often witnesses how these misconceptions come into play.
She stresses, “People don’t want to come too close to them, and these children are often excluded from activities. They are not invited to birthday parties or any other social activity. Because of this, they tend to be lonely.” As we digest this unfortunate fact, Jennifer explains the community has much to learn from the disabled. “These children have every reason to cry and complain. But they don’t. They are always happy and grateful for everything they have in life, whereas we “normal people” complain about everything.”
With the disabled showing intense compassion, craving nothing more than compassion, Jennifer encourages the community to become more involved in the lives of the disabled. An action which will surely change the way you see the world.