I Belong

Mel M. Garcia

Fairness…  Acceptance… Sense of belongingness… Inclusion…

             These are some of the concepts that play along my mind as inclusive education becomes a trend in the Philippines.

             Growing up in a family with meager resources, it felt like that I was alienated and too far away from living a normal life like other children of my age. The idea of having had to go through hardships through life has opened my mind and heart to become more sensitive with how I should deal with people with special conditions.

             I was born normal. I was healthy and perhaps this was the best gift that the Great Lord had bestowed upon me and my family. It was poverty that placed me into many predicaments of life; yet through these all I survived and witnessed the beauty of life – a life that offers a lot of promises.

             With all these things, I was forged by circumstances to embrace that everyone has to be dealt with fairness. In terms of relationships, social rights and right to education, everyone deserves to be treated equally despite indifferences.

             I have accepted life’s oppressions in as much as I have always wanted the world to be accepting of all people who tread different walks of life. In acceptance, there is inclusion. There shouldn’t be any walls, whether physical nor psychological, that would divide people from treating each other well.

             People with disorders should be given a chance to be a part of our world, your world, my world. We are more blessed than they are because God has put us in this status so we may look after them.

Caring for and making things happen for people with disabilities are a noble passion that anyone may serve in his lifetime. Letting them do what other normal people enjoy doing will give them a sense of belongingness – the idea that makes them feel they are wanted, that they are important, too.

Inclusive education will build a better world for our less privileged brothers and sister who were born with certain difficulties both physically and mentally.

For so many times, these people have been neglected and forgotten. They have experienced so much of the world’s harsh realities that it is high time that they be given the freedom to be like us.

Our brothers and sisters who have been born with certain difficulties should be allowed to mingle with others to share equal rights and opportunities to quality education.

With them being given the appropriate treatment through this revolutionary trend – inclusive education – they will be empowered more so they may serve a better purpose in life. As they learn with us, we learn with them. It is a two way connection. We need to divulge ourselves in them so they may also commit themselves to us.

We need to live in fairness and it will only be achieved in acceptance. As we welcome them as co-equal, we provide them a sense of belongingness. With this, no one will be left in the dark. Nobody will be maltreated and everyone will have a good chance at life.

Fairness and acceptance as the threshold for inclusive education where everyone will have a sense of belongingness can be a great platform to start with. And finally, our challenged brothers and sisters can say, “I BELONG!”