STORIES OF PREJUDICE AND DISCRIMINATION

Raluca Handoca

What it’s like to live with a handicap in a small town from Romania

V is a young man who was born in 1995 in a small town in the middle of the Carpathians. Back then, his mother never went to a doctor that could examine her baby with an ultrasound so until the moment of birth no one knew that the baby is missing third of his left arm. Shortly after he was born his father passed away leaving his mother to take care of 5 children, one of them being V.

He grew up in a loving home and he was one of the best students from his class. In 2014 his mother also passed away leaving V to live in his childhood home with his older brother.

I met him when I was 9 and I moved in the same flat that he lives in. He is one of the nicest people I know and we became friends right away. I see him as I see any of my friends physically speaking. We grew up together and he never stopped to impress me and the rest of our friends. He is just as normal as we are. We all played the same games, watched the same cartoons and did the same childish mistakes. There were moments when there were new kids around the block and that was when the discrimination began. Kids found him weird and called him names because of his missing hand. You could see the pain in V’s eyes when that happened but the ones that got to know him would come in his help against the bullies. He was excluded from playgroups, he was the subject of gossip between the people that did not know him and what I could not understand was when parents would forbid their children to interact with V.

Thing like this were happening less and less when V joined the town’s soccer team for children. He spent a lot of time playing soccer, he did not need to use his hands and he was pretty good at it. Meanwhile other people began to get to know the nice little boy that I knew.

When you have something special about you and you live in a small town where everybody knows everybody, you definitely stand out. His family was not the poorest nor the richest family in town. He got help from wealthier people sometimes. Overall I believe that we got a great person among us that did so much more than the ones that have the full ability to do things. I always admired him and his perseverance. He was good in school, good at soccer, and when he started high school he found another passion, music. He started to play music as a DJ at the small parties from the town and soon he got hired by the manager of the disco. He seemed to be the happiest I have seen him. Everybody knew him and appreciated his skills. I think that by that point everybody from town saw him for what he truly is not for the poor kid that does not have a hand.

Unfortunately, in the summer of 2014 his mother passed away. That was the moment when V was supposed to choose a college and try to plan for the future. He got into the school that he wanted but he was missing the biggest support from his family, his mother. He told me that he had a really hard time adjusting to the big city lifestyle. His roommates were not the nicest people and they could not see past his disability. He went to live with some people from his hometown and thigs were getting better. But that was not enough for him. At school there were people that did not even try to consider him an equal. Professors’ attitude did not help at all. He was told multiple times, for no reason, that his disability does not grant him any special treatment. This was too much for V who was going through such a hard time, amplified by the demise of his mother, that he dropped out.

In 2015 he joined another school in a smaller city but that was not a good match for him either. He said that he found a DJ job in a club and when he saw how much money he was making he decided to quit school and pursue his dream in music.  He is currently a DJ in 3 different clubs. He does his job well. Is he being blind by the power of money? Maybe.

But I believe that he did not failed, he is more mature than any 20 years old that there is. He choices were made in such way that he would find a place where he can be seen normal.

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