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  • Mom Says People With Disabilities Can Work, Raise Kids, And Take Care Of Themselves

    “Focus on what’s important,” says a mom of two boys with an amputated leg.
    by Jocelyn Valle .
Mom Says People With Disabilities Can Work, Raise Kids, And Take Care Of Themselves
PHOTO BY Shutterstock/vetre
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    Parenting in a pandemic is tough, but when parents have disability? 

    For Cza Guerra Formalejo and her husband Jared Formalejo, they are taking the COVID-19 pandemic one day at a time as they raise their daughter, their 2-year-old toddler and run their own jewelry business.

    Cza shares their story as #ParentsWithDisability in a post on our Facebook group, the Smart Parenting Village, to help raise awareness “that people with disabilities CAN be parents, contrary to popular belief that PWDs (people with disabilities) can’t take care of themselves, work, or raise families.”

    She tells her fellow member-moms that she has been diagnosed with chronic depression and anxiety. Her better half, on the other hand, is afflicted with “two chronic illnesses,” hemophilia and a seizure disorder.

    Hemophilia, according to Mayo Clinic, “is a rare disorder in which your blood doesn’t clot normally because it lacks sufficient blood-clotting proteins (clotting factors).”
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Cza Guerra Formalejo

    The seizure disorder, Cza explains, began as epilepsy (caused by abnormal brain activity) and can now develop into a psychogenic illness (caused by mental or emotional conflict).

    Not all disabilities are visible

    In the Philippines, a disability in a person means “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more psychological, physiological or anatomical function of an individual or activities of such individual.” 

    There are laws, primarily Republic Act 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, that uphold the rights and protect the welfare of PWDs.

    Cza says Jared “has always faced difficulty finding work, due to the still-present discrimination against people with disabilities.” The salaries he would get for jobs that would accept him could not sustain their needs as a family.

    That’s why they just “decided to stay at home and become full-time entrepreneurs,” putting up a jewelry business and watch dealership.

    She admits having a couple of businesses using their “very limited resources” hasn’t always been “smooth-sailing.” Additionally, they are also “sometimes debilitated due to our health conditions.”

    But, she points out, there’s a bright side to their situation: “It allows us to have nearly unlimited time to spend with our daughter during her formative years. We are committed to being fully involved and present for her, so we can teach and train her to become a kind, independent, and caring person as she grows older.”

    Cza explains she and her husband use parenting techniques inspired by the Montessori method of education. She’s aware that the child-centered method “may seem quite unconventional to some, or even downright scary considering that my husband has physical limitations.”

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    “Still,” she adds, “we firmly believe that it’s better to teach independence and instill confidence than to always fear what may (or may not) happen.”

    At the end of Cza’s post, she asked other members of the Smart Parenting Village who have similar stories. The outpouring of responses came not just from parents with disabilities and parents of PWDs, but from those who wanted to show their support and admiration.

    Coping with discrimination  

    Krystal Faye G. Senica shares her husband, Jeffrey Cuaresma Yabut, “has only one eye” after suffering from infections when he was a toddler. He has experienced a lot of discrimination that he ignores for the sake of their family.

    Krystal proudly reports they own a business related to roofing and aluminum. Their three-story house has reached completion, and they have invested in other properties. 

    “I am blessed that I married the right man,” she says of the father of her three children. She believes that PWDs are “all lucky charms.”

    Angelica Loren Gomez had her right leg amputated as a result of her battle with bone cancer. She acknowledges carrying her two sons as “a big challenge,” so she has become open about her disability “so others could help with the difficulties.”

    “I believe that the true disability comes with a person with a wrong mindset,” says Angelica, who works as a hospital pharmacist.

    She then shares a to-do list to overcome that wrong mindset, along with a virtual hug:

    • Prayer works
    • Mind your determination, not the discrimination
    • Discrimination is just a distraction
    • Focus on what’s important
    • Family, Family, Family

    Click here to read the rest of the reactions on Smart Parenting Village. 

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