“People with disability do not want charity. All they need is love, support and encouragement. That is the most a person who is mentally or physically challenged needs from the society,” says Brinsley Almeida who was born with cerebral palsy, a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture. Due to this condition he has faced problems in basic day-to-day routines like getting dressed or writing in school.
However, Brinsley managed to complete his education regardless of all the difficulties. He studied at St Thomas High School, graduated from MES College and then completed Masters in English from Goa University. He says: “My mother had to do everything for me up to the age of 15 to 16, and then slowly my mother helped me less in order to make me independent. She started encouraging me to do things on my own.”
The most important thing that his parents emphasised was on normal education as they never looked at him as handicapped or specially-abled, thus Brinsley has never been to a special school. He was active in extra-curricular activities and took part in fancy dress competitions, debates, plays and other activities. He even took part in events held at the university level. “In school most of my friends were very helpful and I am still very grateful to my friends from school, college and university. They have always been by my side but there were a few who would say that if I were in your place I would just sit at home rather than come to school,” he says adding that some people criticised his parents too, saying, “why are you all taking so much trouble to get him educated?”
The problem he faced repeatedly during his time as a student was writing. He could not write fast and hands would sweat. But he says teachers would understand and give him extra time and assign writers for him. “I don’t remember taking any special concessions except once or twice when I took extra time for exams,” says Brinsley.
Although he had the facility of a wheelchair at the university, he says: “It is my personal belief and I have experienced that once you sit in a wheelchair you lose the will to be independent. Teachers would say that I will fall and get injured but my parents raised me to be normal and be treated as a normal child.”
His parents, Presila and Bertalinho Almeida have been his constant support as they never held him back from doing anything. “My role model was my maternal grandfather, who was a very positive influence in my life. He always encouraged me and said that I would do something in my life,” says Brinsley whose greatest inspirations in life are positive people. Added to his list of role models are Stephen Hawking and Helen Keller.
He never looked at his disability negatively. He says: “Who knows, if I did not have a disability I would not have seen the world as I do today. I see how people treat the disabled. They think people with disabilities lack something. They do not understand that what we lack in we make up for in 1000 other ways.”
Disability has taught Brinsley to stay positive, respect others and be strong-willed to become the person one is destined to be. The youngster says that he still has a lot to achieve and believes that hardships come and go but one should not get disheartened or take things to heart. “Always take every negative aspect of your life in a positive way; that is the only way you are going to overcome them,” he says.
Brinsley has also taught a basic and advanced computer course for one year at Bilsoft Information Technology, Margao. Through teaching he says he learned to adapt to different people and different learning needs. As of now he repairs computers, laptops and smartphones for his family and friends. He has learned most of these things on his own and the rest at Bilsoft.
He recently attempted the National Eligibility Test but did not make it through so he plans to do full preparation and attempt the examination again.
He is currently looking for a teaching job and does not mind doing DJing as that is hobby.