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Valentina, our greatly loved volunteer at the Barn, shared her thoughts with us on her Graduation Day in December 2019.

“When I started my Master’s in Disability Studies, I wanted to learn more about disability. I thought that my personal experience would be an advantage to understand some of the issues related to it.  But I discovered that I did not know anything, and that my perspective was similar to the common perspective of other people. When I thought about people with a disability I felt pity and sadness.

This postgraduate course and my experience with the Life Project taught me that an impairment does not define a person. It is only part of a person, like the colour of their hair or eyes. This year taught me that even though impairments exist and can create serious limitations in the lives of people with disability, the real barriers are outside, in society, in our perspective. This is because society is made by and for “able” people, those without a disability.

Each one of us can make a difference, each one can work to include and promote the independence of people with a disability, not looking at what a person cannot do or does not have, but looking at the abilities that make that person unique, the abilities God gives us as humans.  It is not easy to live differently, to live with pain and medical tests, so it is not easy to live with an impairment. However, it is even more difficult when you are excluded by society.

I came here without thinking of what I could find, but I found a lot: friends, a beautiful community in the Life Project and the church, and people that care for me and pray for me.  The course was not easy, I often felt sad and lonely, and worried that I would be unable to complete my degree. But with my husband’s help, your support and my family’s support I have done it.

So THANK YOU!”

Many congratulations Valentina on achieving your Masters in Disability Studies from the University of Bristol