Going on social and disability assistance was humiliating and demeaning. As a professional, many of my clients were on disability assistance. Their fear and unease of applying and being on assistance was always prominent in my mind through the stories that they told me.
I had been unemployed for a long time. The effects of my disability were taking a toll on my health. I did not have the money to “stabilize” these effects, as that was a luxury while I was trying to maintain some semblance of an existence while living in poverty. Now I had depleted my meagre resources and had no other option but to ask for help even though I would have to sacrifice much just to get this form of assistance.
I prayed for a sympathetic caseworker to handle my case and I got one. Under these still demeaning circumstances, everything went as smoothly as it could. The caseworker told me that they were here for people like me and that I should not be ashamed to ask for help. She even recognised who I was which was embarrassing at first. She had referred many of her clients to me when I was working because of my good reputation. She even said that clients liked me and felt I helped them.
Now that I am working again, I can further appreciate the teeter-totter existence that so many people with disabilities experience when they are trying to attain and maintain sustainable livelihoods and a good quality of life. Again, a few of my clients are on disability assistance. The other day, one of these clients asked me to complete a form for her to give to her caseworker so that she could get an honorarium to supplement her monthly disability benefits. She said, “You know, you got to do what you got to do (in the system)”. I replied, “Oh yes, I do know.