Disability and the struggle for labor inclusion

Carol Ixtabalán

My name is Rony Daniel Leiva Sales, and I am 30 years old.  A couple years ago, I dedicated myself to journalism and I worked for several media organizations in Quetzaltenango.  My life changed forever due to a brain tumor that affected my optic nerves.

In Quetzaltenango, they told me that it was very dangerous to operate on me and that I had little chance of survival, and so they sent me to Guatemala City.  Day after day, my health situation became more precarious, and in less than a year, the damage to my vision became permanent: I had approximately three months to save the right eye. The docotors said that I had already lost the left eye because the tumor had eaten away the optic nerve.

The operation was not easy to perform, I did not have social insurance, or employment benefits, and so I had to sell everything I had.  I remember very well that some years ago, on November 25, the doctor came and said: “the operation is risky, you have at least 5 years, enjoy your family.  The pain is controlled with medicine; it won’t hurt because one day you’re going to sleep…”  It was very complicated, but I made the decision to go through with the operation knowing that I could die or become paralyzed. Fortunately, everything went well and my vision improved a little after the operation.

However, although I did not lose my vision completely, my work life has been difficult because of this disability.  For 8 years, I worked with my father at a body shop, and later I graduated from Marketing and Advertising.  Later I left to look for employment and I worked with the Rhemavisión channel, and then for the news show “Telediario” in 2012.  I was also a correspondent for national television’s channel 3.  My last job was in 2016, when I was working for Telecable, as the news director.  However, since the impairment and its treatments began, I have not been able to get work.  Now, thanks to the Prociegos program, they are teaching me computer skills to do writing in a different way.

My family has been with me all the time and have helped me at each moment.  At home, there were many changes; a bathroom was even built on the third floor so that I would have it close.  However, amid the depression from the change in my life, I felt useless, I became insufferable, hateful, aggressive, and I got angry and screamed.  If I tripped or overfilled a glass, I made a scene; I even thought about killing myself, but God made me aware and that is where my motivation to study and do other things began, like studying cooking, even though I would love to work in media.

From my experience, I know that the attention that is given to people with disabilities is lacking.  For example, the Braille system is not felt on money; likewise, in the last elections, although a system to allow blind people to vote without problems was planned, this did not work well at all.  In the work world, it is very complicated, the companies talk a lot about inclusion, but not everyone is open to working with people with disabilities.  However, signs of support are received from some people; for example, many bus drivers have been considerate with my situation, even more than people who drive their own vehicle.  One driver for example broke a cane, and it is always difficult to cross at the crosswalks.

I invite businesses and other entities to hire people with disabilities, because we are part of society, and like anyone, we have obligations, responsibilities, and rights.  The fact that someone does not see, does not hear, or cannot walk, does not mean they cannot do intellectual, physical or other kinds of work, even if we do it in a different way.  I ask those that have an opening to give an opportunity, because we can demonstrate skills we have, and we are able learn new things.

I finish by saying that “a disability is not a real limitation, a disability is only an obstacle that perhaps complicates the road for us but that doesn’t determine success, rather it tests us, and it shows us what we’re really made of”.

Si desea brindarle una oportunidad laboral a David, puede contactar a: revista@entremundos.org