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"Brighten the corner where you are"

“Brighten the corner where you are” is one of the most inspiring hymns I know. If I brighten my little corner of the world, the light will illuminate other people’s lives and they in turn would be inspired to shine. I have to be the example of the change I would like to see in my community and the world at large. I would especially like to see change in two areas in particular – the role culture plays in the abuse of women, and autism awareness.

Having a child with special needs, especially autism is one of the worst deck of cards life can deal any family. The burden of taking care of that child usually falls squarely on the mother’s shoulders. Unfortunately most women whose children have special needs find themselves single mothers because most marriages cannot survive the strain that the child brings. Very few people know about autism, yet its occurrence is increasing at an alarming rate. Although autism cannot be cured, it can be treated but because of the stigma associated with it, some mothers choose to hide their children or even dump them without giving them a fair chance. Children with autism, with the right medical attention, patience and love can turn out to be contributing members of society. Because I’m so passionate about raising awareness, I have decided to get a degree in special needs education even though I already have one in Journalism. I want society to understand the condition so as not to rub salt to the wounds by passing mean comments to folks who already have enough on their plate. I would also like women around the world to share their experiences and coping mechanisms and know that they are not alone.

Women in my community are trapped between a rock and a hard place. Our culture dictates that the man is the head of the house, and this is usually misinterpreted to mean that he should be standing on the heads of the women around him. Those who find culture too stifling might decide to run to church, only to find the gospel of female subservience still being preached. The men in our lives quote these dictates out of context to suit their hunger for power.

The distortion of culture has resulted in the rampant abuse of women. In the name of culture women are raped, infected with HIV, denied their right to education, the list is endless. As a VOF correspondent I would want to encourage women to work hard so that they would never have to put their tails between their legs because of their sex. Femininity is a source of pride, not a curse. We should speak out when we have to, not cower in corners because we are women. I am not encouraging sisters to be nasty to their husbands, fathers or brothers, I just want to highlight that if there is mutual respect, the world is a more beautiful place. Men have a lot to gain if the women in their lives are happy because a happy woman is a very generous woman – all around. The sad thing is that women in my community also take an active role in abusing fellow women. I know mothers and sisters-in-law who are real dragons spitting fire in the lives of women who marry their sons and brothers.

Being a VOF correspondent would be like being a small stone thrown into a pool. The ripples will spread far and wide. I want to be that stone because I am bursting with issues I would like to share with the world. I have discovered through Pulsewire that women everywhere have the same problems dogging them. As a correspondent I would highlight these issues, especially from those of us with the extra burden of children with special needs. Through sharing our stories, we will find ways to ease our tribulations. I would also want men, in their numbers, to read what women on Pulsewire write so that they can hear our voices in unison. With some luck they will listen and begin to understand that we are not from different planets after all, we just need to co-exist in harmony.

Comments

katyrdz's picture

Carlotta, what you are doing

Carlotta, what you are doing for your kid and community it's very impressive. I can understand why raising awareness about autism is important to you. Keep up the good work.

Carlotta's picture

Thanks very much Katyrdz!

Thanks very much Katyrdz!

Stella Paul's picture

Way you go!

Dear Carlotta
Very, very happy to know about your decision to study autism. All my best wishes are with you. Here is a group on Facebook and you can check it out http://www.facebook.com/pages/autism/473971310690
This is one place to join other fighters like you. For your other fights, we, your WP sisters are always there to cheer and support!
Love and best wishes!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Carlotta's picture

Thank you very much Stella. i

Thank you very much Stella. i will check out the website.

usha kc's picture

I enjoyed reading your post

I enjoyed reading your post dear. humm yess I feel similarities with mine. And yes I apriciate your vision working for child with autism. it's great dear. go on.
May god always bless you.

Carlotta's picture

Thanks Usha.

Thanks Usha.

Adepeju's picture

I remember a friend of mine

I remember a friend of mine whose younger sister was autistic. Everytime I go to their house, she is always locked up because she is viewed as an embarrassment by her own family. family and societal perception of autism has to change. We need to stand up for change, make a change and be the change! Keep up the fight Carlotta. We shall be here cheering you on :-)

Carlotta's picture

Thank you Adepeju. There are

Thank you Adepeju. There are times when I'd also rather lock up my son, not because he is an embarrassment but he is very disruptive but i don't. Everytime we visit friends i make sure i make a special announcement to everyone that he is autistic so that people can be a little tolerant and not think he is a spoilt brat. I also do not want people whispering among themselves, "What is wrong with that child?" I want people to see that a child with autism, though difficult to handle is indeed lovable. A lot of his schoolmates started going out of their houses at 6+ years because the parents were embarrassed. It makes it more difficult for teachers and therapists to get through to these kids. And it is not fair on the child to be imprisoned. Thanks again.

zoneziwoh's picture

Generous being.

Dear Carlota, your story sadness me a lot. Not actually for what you’ve but because it brings back memories. Memories which I almost pretended they never happened. I don’t know if I will say my experience with autistic is God making or just a coincidence. I have had friends who are autistic, but at that moment, I knew nothing about being autistic until sometime in mid-2000 when I watched a documentary which talked about autism.

I remember whenever my friend had her attacked and when she gain consciousness, she will close herself up and maybe alone for days. Young as I was, very ignorant, I didn’t know how to comfort her but to only respect her wish to be alone. And also not to ask her anything about it. It was sad and so so frustrating for me and for her too.

When I started to learn about autistic kids, I wrote a little poem in April 2008 in commemoration to all those in ill health. Remembered, 2008 was actual my apex in digital discovery, I was gaining full-time involvement in the blogosphere, so most of my article then may actually depict the amateur expertise in me then.

World Health Day: A Word of Hope [ slightly revised(April 2008) ]

FATE WHY?
Fate why?
Question often asked.
I am HIV positive,
Why me?
Turning around,
I could hear some people saying;
I have a heart disease,
I am suffering from cancer of the pancreas”
I am suffering from a disease which,
Medically has not yet been diagnosing. "
Suddenly, I saw this shadow echoing
Footsteps coming towards me.
And the closer, the quite sound.
Then it said;
I am diabetic,
Also suffering from a liver disease.
And!
I am HIV positive.
My health has made me autistic, according to my parents.
Instead, I feel my parents are autistic. That is what I told them. "
You know what,
I am happy.
Because whenever I`m assigned to work,
I gently say;
I am autistic”
Just saying that,
I no longer labor in life. "

Thank you for sharing your story. Jus so you know, I have been on the look on your wall. You and MaDube.

Stay Blessed

Zoneziwoh

Blog: http://zofem.blogspot.com/

Facebook:Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo Wondieh

Twitter | Instagram: @ZoFem

Carlotta's picture

Oh thank you so much

Oh thank you so much Sweetheart for supporting me and others. God will bless you for your beautiful heart, i know.

MaDube's picture

Hey Carlotta

From the very first post you wrote in your journal I know how much you love your son, how trying it has been for you to deal with his condition but above all how brave you have been in managing your son's difficult condition. You are a strong woman and I would love it if you could help other women to be strong like you through world-pulse. I wish you the best.

I loved the part when you said when society says the men is the head of the house it does not mean that he can stand on the heads of others in his house. That is the misrepresentation that most men have of that biblical statement, one that we as mothers and future mothers can collectively destroy and correct in our children's minds. Socialisation plays a huge role in shaping perceptions and we can change that.

Carlotta's picture

Thanks MaDube for the warm

Thanks MaDube for the warm words. i really love him to bits and he knows. If something has upset him, he'll ask his dad or anyone around "where's mummy?" in his normal voice. And when he finds me that's when he starts crying, saying he's sad. it can be very annoying but when i sit down to think, I'm glad he sees me as his source of comfort. You must have written a masterpiece for you took a full week!!

MaDube's picture

Not really

I was just a lil busy. Work, some applications for other things and a friend of mine was getting married this weekend.

Monica Clarke's picture

Dear Carlotta Just to say

Dear Carlotta

Just to say thank you for this very thought provoking piece. You do have a way of saying things in a much needed and a fresh way, with new insights. The world needs you voice and I pray that you will become a VOF correspodent! God bless you Carlotta.

Lots of loving from Monica

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

Carlotta's picture

Thanks a lot for the warm

Thanks a lot for the warm wishes Monica. Be blessed as well.

Okeny-Lucia's picture

Am with you Carlotta

Hey,
I see you ,I feel the pain of having a special child.I have nursed autistic children in an environment where little is known,mothers being abandoned by loved ones.Thinking that it is a curse.And sometimes it was draining as a nurse to watch helplessly when spouses dont even talk to each other,and the child becomes a barrier.
Sister you are on the right path.Kudos!

Lucia Buyanza
Reproductive Health

Carlotta's picture

Thank you very much Lucia.

Thank you very much Lucia. Marriage is already a lot of work without a special child in the mix. We (my husband and I) have to constantly fight fires to make things work because these children need so much attention such that at some point you stop being husband and wife but just parents, and that's when the problems begin.

Greengirl's picture

You Shine!

Three weeks back, I was reading the autobiography of an inspirational woman and came across this saying " people don't want to know how much you know, they want to know how much you care? You combine both, I mean knowledge and care and you shine with it. There is no doubting the fact that you seek for more knowledge because you care. The ripples you seek to create will sure extend your cares to all be need it!

Blessings.

Olanike.

Carlotta's picture

Thank you very much Olanike

Thank you very much Olanike for the lovely comment. When my son was diagnosed last year, i was suicidal because i felt all alone in the world and did not know how or where to get help. Now that i know a lot on the condition, I would like to be of some use to another desperate parent out there who might be looking for exactly the same help i needed back then. Thanks again.

Celine's picture

Hi Carlotta

Hi Carlotta,

I am touched by the tie of affection between you and your son. The challenges you encounter are same experience with other mothers of persons with disabilities. It reminds me of my closeness to my own mother. She is my guide and when I was a child I saw her as the only reason and my hope for living. I tell you, at every point I passed out, her crying voice brought me back. And she never gave up or stayed away at those times. I remember at one point I was on Intensive Care Unit and parents were not allowed to the unit. My mother stood outside by the window and refused to leave. But one thing I never enjoyed was to see her cry or look sad. Your child also might not like to see you cry or lament or look sad, so please be strong.

You might like to contact Sandy Waters, an American, her child also has autism. Sandy has done a great work on autism. She is an autism activist. Her websites:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thecandystore
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/speced/20...
http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseac...
http://www.autismtoday.com/articles/Fait...
http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section...
http://www.myspace.com/sandywaters

May the good LORD strengthen you dear Carlotta.
Celine

Carlotta's picture

Oh thank you so much Celine

Oh thank you so much Celine for the kind words, my eyes are welling with tears right now. My son's condition breaks my heart but you should see me when im with him. I become an absolute child as well and people around me think I'm very strong and that i handle it well. the truth is it can be overwhelming but I want my son to see me happy because i have noticed that when I'm anxious he picks up on it. I want him to pick up on the joie de vivre!

Carlotta's picture

Oh thank you so much Celine

Oh thank you so much Celine for the kind words, my eyes are welling with tears right now. My son's condition breaks my heart but you should see me when im with him. I become an absolute child as well and people around me think I'm very strong and that i handle it well. the truth is it can be overwhelming but I want my son to see me happy because i have noticed that when I'm anxious he picks up on it. I want him to pick up on the joie de vivre! And thanks for the links. I'm sure i will find them very helpful.

Frans's picture

your post

Carlotta, your post moved me very much. I cannot imagine how challenging it is to have an autistic child but you sound like a very loving, strong and motivated woman. I really liked how you wrote about male/female relationships and also how sometimes other women can be even harsher to women than men. Sad comment but very true. I wish you much success and think you would be a great candidate for this program. Best, Fran

Carlotta's picture

Thank you very much Fran. I

Thank you very much Fran. I believe having to look after my son has indeed made me fairly strong. And thanks for the warm wishes.

Alicia_Marie's picture

Your light travels far

Carlotta,

I was very impressed with your vision, not only because you are able envision a world where the harsh realities of people's fear and discrimination over developmental disorders is gone, but because you are able to problematize the way things are now, in order to start suggesting solutions of how to get to the way the world could be. You have been able to build so much strength, working within today's society, equipped with your understandings and your lived experiences. Just like you mentioned, I think you would benefit so much from being a small stone thrown into a pool. You have so much to share and your ability to inspire and create a dialogue for change has already had an impact here at WorldPulse.

Alicia

Carlotta's picture

That's a very humbling

That's a very humbling comment Alicia, thank you very much. be blessed.

Dear Carlotta:

Besides knowing and following your truth that your son needs to be respected and supported -- not shunned and disrespected -- you also have a strong and broad perspective on cultural norms and their basis for the injustice against women that has only recently -- so recently ! -- been discussed and addressed.

I have education in special education and I support your position wholeheartedly. Looks like you have plenty of references already. I am confident you will keep learning. Bravo.

And indeed your use of words makes such a difference with your "writing voice" -- like men are the head supposedly but that doesn't mean standing on women' s heads" has a twist of humor and above it brilliance that I love.

And then your subtle reference to the (non-really PhD John Gray's) book about men and women being from different planets is super! : "some luck they will listen and begin to understand that we are not from different planets after all, we just need to co-exist in harmony." -- all delivered with your tongue in cheek and lack of bitterness and actually possibly some compassion for men's tradition for being so blinded by their need for power and domination.

Very well done, Carlotta!

Anna

Speaking my Peace

Carlotta's picture

Oh Anna, you are really

Oh Anna, you are really making my head grow very big right now! Thank you so much for the lovely comments, you make me more determined to stand for my son, for women kind and to write even more. Thank you ever so much.

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