Mercedes Gonzalez Amade
HAVANA TIMES — I am always optimistic at the beginning of the year – I expect many good things to happen. Sure enough, in January I found out a number of promising things about our rights as disabled persons. Sometimes, a little of bit of information can be immensely gratifying.
I’ve been a member of ACFLIM (Cuban Association for the Physically Disabled) for years, but no one had informed me of a number of important things till recently. Thanks to the fact I am the Vice-Chair for Social Integration at the Marianao office of the institution, I was able to skirt a number of bureaucratic obstacles and to find out our benefits go beyond free public transportation.
Since I have criticized the poor work of this organization on other occasions, today I would like to share some of the positive things we disabled persons in Cuba are entitled to.
The first thing I regret not having been informed of before is that we are entitled to a monthly, 22-peso phone bill discount, something which helps our ridiculous personal finances.
We also have the right to purchase interprovincial bus and train tickets, and travel to the Isle of Pines, for only half the fare price. This is of vital importance for those who have relatives in other provinces.
With respect to education, we can pursue studies like all other citizens and can attend special schools, such as the Solidaridad con Panama (“Solidarity with Panama”) school. There are also teachers who offer home lessons, for those who are unable to leave their houses.
We are entitled to practice any sport we are physically capable of performing and thus put our potential to the test – the kind of physical and mental encouragement that is simply priceless.
That well-known saying, “better late than never,” fits my case very well.
It doesn’t matter I didn’t know these things for a long time. Now that I do, I will be able to demand my rights and, better, inform others of theirs, such that all members of the organization can exercise them, such that they don’t have the same experience I did. As soon as I find out about a new member, I will let them know immediately.
I know I’ve left out a number of benefits. One is the recent delivery of 24 new wheelchairs for our area, each at the reasonable price of 77 Cuban pesos. I will leave that, however, for another post.