People with Disabilities in Cuba: Different But Not Insensitive

Mercedes Gonzalez Amade

Dancers. Photo: sierrmaestra.cu

HAVANA TIMES — After many years of meeting people with physical disabilities – people of different ages, tastes and educational levels – I’ve come to realize one thing: the majority of men who develop disabilities as a result of health complications or accidents have the fortune of having their partners remain by their side, offering them support, understanding and, most importantly, love. Sometimes, these women give up their jobs and drastically change their lifestyles to take on the care of their ailing husband or boyfriend.

Exactly the opposite happens with women: most of the time, they are abandoned to their own resources, as their partners leave them in these difficult moments. At such times, they can only rely on their close relatives and some friends, if they’re lucky. This abandonment leads to a loss of self-esteem and the wish to go on living. It becomes a vicious circle that is difficult to break, as no one wants to be next to someone who is bitter and sad.

Another issue is that society regards us as people that are so different that it cannot conceive of us having a romantic relationship with a healthy person. One often hears comments (among disabled people, even) about how so-and-so is going out with “a person who can walk” and how they don’t feel embarrassed, and so forth.

When I think about this, I come to the following conclusion: the fact I am physically disabled does not curtail my desires or tastes, and I need not limit myself to a certain kind of person. One can find love anywhere, in any human being. We also have feelings and are as capable of intense love as anyone with the full use of their legs.

We are different on the outside. On the inside, however, we are just as sensible as anyone else. We’re somewhat vulnerable, but that doesn’t make us weaker. Perhaps a bit old-fashioned for today’s world, we try and make the most of all the ways of showing love and affection.

There are some who think that a non-disabled partner can be of greater help to one.

It is not so hard to understand: we are determined to give love and we have every wish to receive it.

Mercedes González

Mercedes González Amade: I'm 38 years old and physically challenged. I struggle daily in this life be it on crutches or in a wheelchair. I have a 12-year-old son who is my main inspiration and for who I have fought tooth and nail. I hold a position in the governmental institution that serves the handicapped in my part of the capital. In the afternoons I practice tennis well away from where I live. My intention with Havana Times is to help spread the desire to live and to do so with dignity, especially to persons with physical and motor difficulties.

One thought on “People with Disabilities in Cuba: Different But Not Insensitive

  • As somebody who was born without physical challenge, I had not paying to much attention to people who does, till recently.

    There was an young man, who uses a wheel chair and show up at entrance of my college building every Tuesday afternoon. Pretty sure he is there waiting someone to pick him up, after class.

    I often wondered how kind of courage it takes to people like the young man mention above, choose to take a active and learning life, instead of just sit in at home and just collect welfare, which is an option for him in Canada…

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