'Pregnant and disabled but I don't want pity'
- 17 November 2011
- From the section Africa
The subject of disability in Africa is not often discussed in the media, but a new documentary film aims to address this.
Body and Soul was shot in Mozambique's capital Maputo and follows the day-to-day lives of three young disabled people.
It reveals the challenges and discrimination they face - some children in Mozambique are not sent to school for example - but also reveals the strength and determination of each of the film's main characters.
It took director Matthieu Bron - who is French, but spent 13 years living in Mozambique - more than three years to make. Here are their stories:
Vasco Covane, 25
When I leave my house and go to the market, I have great difficulties because of the sand.
It's because of the buses that I don't use the wheelchair.
I feel flexible without the wheelchair because I can get onto any bus.
I don't depend on anyone, I depend on myself.
Obviously I have problems… Going on all fours hurts.
There are stones and other things that strike me but I prefer to move like this because with the wheelchair I will be delayed.
It looks like I'm a beggar and don't have anything to do. But I know where I'm going. That's it.
I really like having money, when I know I've done something to earn this money.
I don't like offers of the "take this, take that" kind. That doesn't get me anywhere.
I don't feel good about that.
Victoria Massingue, 32
Facing society is a great challenge for a disabled woman who is pregnant.
There are always prejudices: "Who had the courage to make her pregnant?"
They forget that she is also a woman who has feelings, who may like someone, or someone may like her, and they have sex.
For them it's always someone who deceived her and made her pregnant.
They never look at the feminine side of disabled women.
For me as a woman, this is the affirmation of my identity as a woman.
I look at myself with the certainty that I'm me.
I don't look at myself as "the disabled Victoria", but as Victoria the person, the human being who has feelings, desires, needs, will and rules.
Our presentation to society is very important for how people will regard us.
If I present myself badly, they will receive me badly.
But if I present myself with my head held high, as a person, they will receive me as a person.
Although we think it's other people who have preconceptions about us, we also have preconceptions about society.
We're afraid of society. We start thinking: "They'll say I'm disabled, they'll say I'm taking up space in the bus."
Mariana Tembe, 23
I suffer humiliation in the street, in the bus, at the shops.
Sometimes when I go into a shop to buy something, the person serving me asks me to leave because perhaps she thinks I'm going to beg for money.
Sometimes people feel pity for me. I hear them saying "poor wretch".
Wretched, me! Why?
I'd rather hear: "Wow! How good! How marvellous!"
I don't like people feeling pity for me.
When somebody feels sorry for me… I look at myself and think "Ah, I'm this!" It doesn't do me any good.
At each moment - every minute, every hour, every second - I am struggling.
I cannot be downcast just because I'm disabled.
I have to face this with a lot of strength, energy and determination.
There are days when I leave the house, go to the bus stop and wait for hours.
The fare collector asks: "Are you going to pay for that wheelchair?"
There are people who get disgusted when they see a disabled person in the bus.
Maybe they think disability can be transmitted. Perhaps that's it?
My greatest dream is to find a man who loves me, to set up a family, to finish my studies, to work. In short, to be happy.
I feel that one day a man will appear, who loves me as I am, without adding or removing anything - who will accept me as I am.
The DVD of the film Body and Soul is due out in early 2012.