by Nerikka Escario
The family could be your greatest strength in times of problems but they can also be the one who will let you down and be your weakness.
I was in my darkest hour back then when my sister said “Ano girl, pabigat na tayo ah?” I knew that was a joke so I just laugh but at the back of my mind, it was quite true.
After thinking about what she said, I immediately asked my mom to look for a school who teaches braille, a form of reading and writing used by a visually impaired. She eventually found an organization that teaches braille. When we were in their office, there was a man who knocked on the door and sat beside me. He talked to me and asked if I know the organization that teaches computer for the blind. He’s Mr. Ernie Heredero a former trainee and a current trainer of ATRIEV.
At first, I hesitated to enroll, but I asked a sign to God if I will grab this opportunity or not. And then, at August 2018, I decided to enroll in a Digital Literacy Training (DLT) in Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration, and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired (ATRIEV) in Quezon City. It’s a non-government organization which helps visually impaired persons through the use of assistive technology.
The course gave me a hope that I could still learn about computers just like people with typical vision do. On the first day of the training, I already wanted to go home because I had a hard time understanding how to navigate the computer using only a keyboard and a screen reader. A software that is used to read the displayed on screen. I even cried and beg my mom to pack my bag. I was determined to back out at that time but I was thankful because the trainers and my classmates assisted me to cope-up with the training.
I had an alias, ”Ms. Tarantula” because in all the activities, I easily become “taranta” or panicky. I realized that I should be independent and faced the new challenges in my life. I started it in learning how to use a cane. In our dorm in “Bahay Biyaya”, I familiarized all the corners of the dorm repeatedly until I memorized all the shore line of sides of the room.
The course also brought back my confidence and made me became optimistic, got me to showcase my talents, and made me found new friends. I’ve also experienced a lot of first time such as: to live in a dorm without my mom, walked with my co trainees like a train, applied talkback in my phone, and used a cane when travelling. And because I enjoyed the last training and willing to learn more, Last November, I took the Introduction to Computer Science (ICS) that thought me to create and design my own website. I never expected that the trainers and trainees can be friends inside the training duration, and everybody was treated equally.
I was also enrolled in Writing for the web training that helped me intensify my writing skills and taught me to put up my own business online. I even joined the General Transcription training to improve my skills and have a job in the future
When I look back in all my memories, I just laugh because of the thought of me going home on the first day but now is different. As much as possible I don’t want to go home because I enjoy every minute with my friends.
I thought that family was the only one who can understand and comfort you in times of problems. I was mistaken. If you just open your eyes, you can find a helping hand in the most unexpected places. ATRIEV didn’t just taught me how to use computer but also introduced me to a new found family.