People with Disabilities are everywhere. Most are constrained in homes, others are left no choice but to be in the streets and beg. They are at home, or they choose to be at home, mainly because of the hassle and bustle of daily commute. Let’s face it, many establishments (even government facilities) are not PWD friendly. And those who are in the streets choose to ask alms with the obvious fact that (not because of their disability) but because they are not given the opportunity to make a living for themselves.
I have a disability, but unlike the others, I am not constrained at home or out in the city streets. I pretty much live a ‘normal’ life. A normal life in the sense that I could go around whenever I want to and do what others do.
When I was seven years old, I lost my sight but it was gradual. At six, I started to have a blurry vision so I was sent to different hospitals for diagnosis and treatments. But eventually, things worsened and I became completely blind. Doctors told me that retinal detachment caused my blindness. As I was told, there was something wrong with my optic nerve, it detached from the retina of my eye.
Hard as it may seem for others, but as far as I can remember things weren’t as difficult for me then. I had time adjusting with the changes given that I was still young when I had to deal with the transition. And a better advantage for me is the fact that I have very supportive and loving family, relatives and friends. Their love for me was all I felt growing up.
I never missed school. I finished my primary, secondary and tertiary education though with a few challenges along the way but I somehow figured my way through it all. I finished Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in STI Recto, Manila in 2015.
Well, I thought, finishing my degree was the hardest ordeal but I was wrong. Finding a job was and still is the most difficult thing. I know finding employment is a universal problem but for us PWDs, it is our everyday lifetime problem. Though after my college graduation I was offered a job but after seven months the company closed since it couldn’t meet the demands of the competitive digital businesses.
That was when I started my quest in searching for jobs. Job hunting in Manila isn’t supposed to be a problem for me with my qualifications but because I am blind, I have this obvious problem.
With all honesty, I have applied for more than 30 jobs around Metro Manila. And the companies I applied for are office-based so it meant that I went through a lot of excruciating commuting just to get to the location of these companies. I always pass the first and/or second screening but never the final screening.
As soon as I get to the face-to-face interview and they’d see the condition I’m in, lines like: “I’m sorry we could not give you the facilities you need’; “We are not PWD ready-yet”; and, “You are really good but we don’t know if we could accommodate you” become repetitive banging cymbals in my head. Over and over I’d hear these rejecting lines from job after another. I was rejected not once, not twice, but more than 30 times!
The truth is, I don’t need any special facility! I have a laptop with a screen reader and these are what I only need in doing my job. They don’t have to restructure their whole building just to accommodate one blind employee. I understand that they are concerned with my welfare, but pitying me or being sorry for what I have won’t make any difference. I need a job! But why can’t they hire me if they know I’m qualified?
Rejection after rejection lowered my self-esteem and gave me the depression I never had before. I never knew that being rejected from job applications could cause so much trauma and emotional pain. So I stopped my daily routine of trying to find employment in JobStreet. After all, “it’s useless after so many tries,” I told myself. JobStreet should have a disclaimer, “PWDs are NOT allowed!” At least I would not hope at all, rather than give false hopes yet get them killed along the way. I know I sound furious but I’m telling the truth from the inmost part of my heart.
When a friend told me about considering to train to be a virtual professional, I was hesitant at first because I didn’t have any prior experiences. But a year later, since I didn’t have any other option, I decided to join and that’s when I found Virtualahan. I trained with them, gained new friends and rebuilt the lost and discouraged pieces of me. I learned digital and communication skills that I need to be well-fitted to many jobs online.
Now I’m embarking again another journey of finding employment. I’m still in the process of waiting for the acceptance of my applications but at least this time, I know I have better chances.
I am crossing my fingers and I am sincerely praying that I won’t be rejected again.