It is hard enough being disabled but for Kaleisha Rolle and Wentworth Sears, life is even more difficult considering the headaches and hassles of using the local bus system.
In an interview with the Bahama Journal yesterday, Ms. Rolle claimed that on any given day, as many as a dozen buses deliberately pass “pretending” not to see her, despite waving her hand in a bid for them to stop.
“They expect me to have a smiling face and act as though it never happened…One of them even told a police officer he is not taking me on his because of my wheelchair…I give them $1.25 going and coming. I think it’s a disgrace,” she said.
“I’m not saying that all of them are bad. In fact, I say thanks to all of them who take my plight seriously.”
The eldest of six children, wheelchair bound Kaleisha has for years had osteogenic sarcoma, a cancerous bone tumor. The disease affects 400 children under age 20 and 500 adults (most between the ages of 15-30) every year in the United States.
In 2000, 24-year-old Kaleisha suffered another major setback – a stroke.
“Thanks be to God I’ve made it through, but oh my God! If anyone were to tell me that having a disability would be this hard, I probably would have died a long time ago.”
And Ms. Rolle is not the only one with such a story.
A Bay Street t-shirt vendor, Mr. Sears has had to suffer the same level of frustration.
He said five years ago, he was actually thrown off a bus. Since then, he has ridden a bicycle.
“I still try to catch buses but you have to wait so long before someone takes you on the bus and so it’s difficult to get around, really difficult,” he said.
Both Ms. Rolle and Mr. Sears are pushing for all public buses to be disabled friendly.
Apart from that, Ms. Rolle is asking the public for assistance in purchasing a new wheelchair.
“The disabled are treated badly…This is something that is very serious,” Ms. Rolle charged.
Although a member of the Bahamas National Council for Disability (BNCD), Ms. Rolle said the organization has not been able to assist.
“The BNCD’s bus is a gas hog,” she said.
“…All disabled people need to come together on this. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it.”