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Valeriy Panyushkin: Another Society

December 3, 2012, 16:15 2149 Author: Valeriy Panyushkin, translated by Oxana Burns www.snob.ru Why is there a bunch of people ready to support and defend disabled people on Facebook, and there is absolutely nobody ready to step up and carry a girl with cerebral palsy from the plane?

I flew from Lvov in a Boeing-737 and the plane was completely crammed with passengers. Not a seat was available. To make it worse, among other passengers there were 18 children with cerebral palsy. They were coming back from the city of Truskavets, where a well-known clinic for such special children is located. To tell you the truth, it is quite a challenge to transport almost twenty children with cerebral palsy in an overcrowded plane. They sit in carriages, it takes them so long to move along the gangway, they spend a lot of time in a rest room, finally, they get tired to sit quietly in armchairs and begin to cry.

For a good while, the passengers as well as the crew behaved decently. Children were neither disturbed nor hurried. The passengers had been waiting for these kids with carriages to board for the another half an hour without any complaints in Lvov. They patiently put up with weeping and an enormous line in the rest room during the whole flight. And when stewards saw a sick girl coming towards them, they took their carts with meal away right in the end of the cabin resignedly.

But in Moscow, when the plane landed and the boarding bridge was submitted, the passengers and the crew decided that they had had enough of it. They quickly took their belongings, quickly left the plane, and quickly got on the bus. It took the children much longer to leave the plane.

The bus was still waiting. The representatives of this airline who had eighteen children with cerebral palsy onboard did not think that one bus is probably not enough for all the passengers and their carriages. The congested bus was waiting. Healthy passengers watched the children hobble downwards the gangway and their mothers carry bags and hold a child at the same time. With bags in one hand and a kid in the other hand they had to go round the plane, get the carriage, unfold it, seat the child, get into the bus, and realize that there is no room for the carriage.

The employees of neither the airline nor the airport helped them. It occurred to nobody to arrange landing of the plane staffed with disabled children in such a way that they wouldn’t have to take a bus at all and go directly to the airport (or it might not have been stipulated in the contract). There was only one man among healthy passengers who helped them to go down the stairs of the boarding bridge, unfold the carriages, and seat the children. That person was I. And none of the healthy passengers joined me, probably, considering me to be a father of one of these children.

I (together with a few moms) came to a stewardess and asked her to get a second bus, because obviously there was not enough room for everybody in that one. A stewardess agreed. She was not malicious, it just did not cross her mind. They started to arrange another bus and promised that it would be provided soon.

And then I offered the healthy passengers to get off and wait, and let the children go. It seemed obvious to me that the first bus should take the sick children to the airport, and healthy passengers can wait for the next one. Needless to say, it was cold and windy, as it was the end of November.

However, it was not so clear to the rest of the passengers. Nobody, not a single passenger of the Lvov - Moscow flight left the bus.

And this is what came to my mind. Thousands of people on Facebook were offended when hosts of the Mayak radio station made fun of disabled people on air. And it was fair. Thousands of people on Facebook shamed Bozhena Rynska when she allowed herself some disrespectful words about people with special needs. Thumbs up! Thousands of people in social networks post any information regarding needs of disabled. Which is a correct thing to do.

But in fact, how came none of these wonderful people from Facebook, except me, happened to be in that plane flying from Lvov to Moscow?

I was wondering how it happens that a group of people writes on Facebook about tolerance towards people with disabilities, and completely different people fly by planes?

I asked myself why there are so many people ready to support and defend disabled people on Facebook, and there is absolutely nobody ready to step up and carry a sick girl from the plane.

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