The Disabled Have Self-Respect

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The Disabled Have Self-Respect

This winter, an economic chill, which is as bitter as the cold weather, is sweeping the nation. Living conditions for the minorities of our society, such as the disabled, change according to the weather and the state of the market economy. Especially, many disabled people face a double difficulty due to economic hardships and inconvenience in everyday life. To these people computers are very important as means of getting information and improving their quality of life. Therefore, the disabled prefer computers above any other thing, but for those who do not have much money to spare, it is not so easy to purchase them.

When Helping Line Bell was making efforts to get used computers for the disabled, we got a phone call from a certain electronics company that it would donate computers. We provided a place to keep the computers temporarily, and went to the meeting place an hour early. The meeting place was 10 minutes away from the company but its officials did not come for more than three hours, without any notice. We soothed our anger and made a confirmation call, at which an official of the company replied, "We will go down to the basement right now to get the computers ready and start." We could not believe what we heard. But our surprise didn't end there. An hour later, the computers - gray with dust and half of them not even in boxes - arrived in a freight car.

Now, these things are nothing out of the ordinary. Among donated materials for the needy there are many things that cannot be utilized right away, such as underwear that has not been washed, clothes with all their buttons missing and monthly magazines published more than 10 years ago. If these were handed directly to the needy without any check and without being repaired, the needy would feel wretched and frustrated.

It is not so in every case, but the fixed conception of the disabled does not transcend the perception of considering them the needy neighbors. Therefore, when public or national holidays arrive, the disabled, single senior citizens and orphans occur to people as subjects for performing good deeds. Especially at the end of the year, we receive many phone calls to demand introductions to the disabled that they can help. The needy in more unfortunate situations are preferred. Also, potential helpers add that the greater the number of people who are recommended, the better.

Occasionally, some demand information: the list of names and personal background of the disabled. At their request, I recall the disabled I know to decide who should be selected. Sometimes I check out their domestic economy by phone calls and in some cases, I conduct a direct home visit to get various details. With this information, I draw up a report for days, with an earnest yearning that this person will be given help. But I know that these efforts are meaningless. That is because I found out that those who want as much information about the disabled as possible are not to be trusted to help out. In most cases, only one or two disabled persons may get help, and at times people would not give any help at all, saying that they only planned to do so.

I understand the desire to select the person of one's own preference among many. But I want to ask them if they ever tried to understand the disappointment of the disabled whose information was drained and was selected or rejected at another's will?

In this world there are people who give and those who receive. It is said that the minds of those who give are beautiful. There is nobody who would object to this statement. But I want to think like this: Maybe those who give take it for granted that since donation is a rightful act, recipients should receive their gifts in a grateful manner. There is a Korean proverb, "If you can scrape a bare living, do not live in the wife's home." Before selecting what to give, first consider how to give it and think in the perspective of the recipients. Inconsiderate gifts may turn the expectation of the recipients into anger.

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