Look around and be aware
We live in a society which can be very exclusive.
Not that I can change anything about that, but what I can do is, raise awareness.
Together, we’ll be able to move more and more towards inclusiveness. For us to get there, we first have to recognize the exclusiveness around us, which we ourselves currently accept.
Over the years I had plenty of interaction with Irish and German media. I enjoy open doors at all levels of the media and one day, decided to utilize this access.
The projects I talk about in this part of my website took place quite a few years ago.
I meant to roll out more projects over the years, but was overwhelmed with developments in my personal life, which stopped me in my tracks.
However, I am back and am planning a new project for the near future. Subscribe to this blog to stay up to date.
This project was inspired by a group of wheelchair users, who visited Ireland. I looked after them in my capacity as a Tour Guide.
While with those very friendly and never complaining people, I learned that they were not really disabled, but that we, society, were disabling them – by not catering for their needs.
If we disable, we can enable
Let’s put it this way. Sitting in a wheelchair is not really a disability, but not being able to read the menu at the outside wall of a restaurant, because it is hanging too high on the wall, is a disability. Or sitting in the same wheelchair, outside the same restaurant and not knowing whether this restaurant is providing a wheelchair accessible toilet is a disability.
Walkways in our towns and cities, which can’t be accessed properly by wheelchair users without the help of others is a disability, not the fact that one may be confined to a wheelchair.
To put it into context. If you own a car, but you have no roads to drive on or no parking lots to park in, than you’re being disabled to use your car, but you’re not disabled as such. Get the point?
On July 22nd, 2004 I left Midleton in County Cork to travel 1,000 miles in 7 days to raise the delicate and yet burning topic of ever increasing number of suicides in Ireland.
Depression, often the cause of suicide, is not given the attention it deserves. People who suffer from depression are the last people to stand up and demand things and there would be a lot that should be demanded on their behalf.
Pills instead of therapy
When you suffer from alcoholism or a drug addiction, you qualify for a therapy, if you are a convicted rapist you will be given some kind of treatment, but if you suffer from depression, which often ends in death, you’re given – if you’re lucky, some pills.
This must change!
Time for each other
First of all we must find time for each other again, we need to recognise when people are in need. Depressed members of our society live withdrawn, they don’t come out and say “I suffer from depression”. A lot of these people don’t even know that they do suffer from depression.
Depression is a lonely illness
I went to travel 1,000 miles in 7 days, but it turned out to be a little more than 1,000 miles in 9 days. I met and talked to dozens of people, who had all a story to tell. They had either suffered a loss by suicide in the family or were depressed or maybe even suicidal themselves.
The nine days turned out to be the most emotional time of my life and I learned something very important. I had actually suffered from a heavy depression in the past myself and I didn’t recognise it at the time.
In the mid 90s I went through a long phase in my life, where I had locked myself away. I didn’t have any contact to my friends or family, I didn’t answer the phone, I only left the house if absolutely necessary and then only by rushing through the streets. I didn’t even have much contact to my children, who were living with me in the same house.
My wife was everything but my friend at the time, even though she was there for me. She didn’t know what was going on and told me repeatedly that I was a waste of space.
However, it took that trip for me to learn that I had suffered from an illness, which thousands of people around us suffer from and I know it is an awful life one lives.
The project (2005)
Have you ever walked the streets of your town, seen a beggar and wondered what he or she would turn over?
Well, I have. I walked the streets of Germany or Ireland many times and wondered what drives people out into the streets, begging for a living.
What makes people drop their dignity? How much money is involved? Why do parents have their children beg?
In 2005 I went under cover for five days. I went out and begged for money on five days at five different locations in County Cork.
I was very surprised. I didn’t come across any abuse whatsoever. I bet that a barman is subject to more abuse than a beggar.
Sit back and read the reports which I wrote during the five days.
More to come – stay tuned
Those are the first of my projects, highlighted on this site. There’s more to come, stay tuned. Subscribe by submitting your email address in the panel on the right hand side of this page.