Mariam. The girl with unlimited abilities

22/10/2015 16:15

Mariam. The girl with unlimited abilities

It's almost three months that Mariam starts her daily life with a JOB. Every morning, Karo picks her up to workplace by a car marked 911. He drives Mariam and her friends to the Ministry of emergency situations of RA. Karo's car looks like an ordinary minibus, but it's just constructed in a different way. This car is intended for people with special needs.

When I asked Mariam for a meeting, I could hardly imagine that it is almost impossible in Yerevan. It was only one place more or less adapted for Mariam. That is her house.

When I got on the bus, I learnt that there were no seat places in it. On the bus, I saw Mariam and the other girl in their wheelchairs. Karo was driving us by streets I had never seen before, by a car I saw the first time. Our long journey ended in Akhparashen. Passengers were getting out of the car in an unusual way. There was a lift system in the car. Mariam stood on the movable plank that slowly took her down to the ground.

In front of the doors, Mariam's mother met us and led to the house. Mariam was joking. ''This house is not adapted for me and my wheelchair. Yet, it's the most comfortable place in our city. This house was built when I was only 2, and my parents could never now, that someday I would have a movement difficulty. Now we just don't have enough money to reconstruct it''.

Some minutes later Mariam got to the dining room and sat down in her usual place, a big armchair in the corner of the room.

Mariam has been diagnosed a Cerebral palsy (CP). She passed several surgery operations, and now she is afraid of new one. During the last operation doctors hardly saved her life.

''I'm 29. I live with my parents, grandparents and my brother. I have never considered myself different from other members of my family. But I cannot say the same about the society. Sometimes people look at me like I'm an alien. I can understand them. You can hardly see us in the streets every day. But we are here. We are just like you. The only difference between us is our social condition. People used to call us ‘’people with limited abilities’’. But it’s not right. We just need equal opportunities”, said Mariam.

Mariam used to go to special school, but most of the time she had to study at home. She was good in mathematics, literature and history, but the higher education remains an unfulfilled dream for her. At that time, none of the buildings of higher education institution were equipped for people with wheelchairs.

At home, she also studied computer skills, piano playing and singing.

“I am an easygoing person. I am so light-hearted. I can give some advice or give a help hand when someone needs it. Of course, sometimes it’s too hard, but I love my life. I know that I’m strong enough to help myself and others. And my family is always there with me”,- says Mariam.

It's already 3 months that Mariam works in the Ministry of emergency situations of RA. She is very happy because her colleagues are very kind to her. She is sure that job is one of the best ways of integration for PWD.

Mariam sings in “Paros” choir for many years. She has been in Vienne and Bratislava during a tour. She says Vienne is like a paradise for PWD. “In Vienne, the government takes care of people with special needs. No one spends money for taxis. The buses are equipped for people with wheelchairs. I have been in such a beautiful places there”, - said Mariam.

In Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, where Mariam lives, it's almost impossible to move with wheelchairs. Public transport is not equipped for PWD. Thus, the municipality of Yerevan insists that city transport system is equipped for people with wheelchairs. There are only 10 buses equipped for people with special needs in Armenia. There are almost 237 wheelchair ramps in the center of the city, but most of them are constructed in a wrong way. In the secondary streets, you can hardly find ramps.

“But I will never live in another place. This is the place where I belong. Here live all my loved ones. I just want to have little more opportunities. That's all. I've found the meaning of my life. I am happy, even sitting on my wheelchair",- said Mariam.

Note. Today, over 30 people with disabilities work at MES, they are enjoying the accessibility and comfort which is ensured in the building.

Author: Sona Martirosyan

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