Freelancing Is a Great Option for Persons With Disabilities and Their Carers
I recently took a second freelance job to help move my family forward despite the challenges of the pandemic. I’ve only been at it for two weeks, but so far it’s been good. I’m praying for a good working relationship with my boss, and for my own personal growth in the area of money management, so that I can make the most of this opportunity.
I’m thankful that I was able to land this project as a newly active freelancer. I had only recently reopened my freelancing account, in hopes of finding another income source. I didn’t expect to land a client, but I did, and what joy!
I’m now learning a lot of things from the job that also help me run my small business. More importantly, I also sleep better at night, knowing that I might now be able to save money for my family’s future.
The tough reality for me as the spouse of a person with disability (PWD) is that I need a certain amount of money to live a genuinely healthy life. Even my mental health depends on money. When my husband, Jared, and I are able to earn enough to buy his seizure medication, pay our bills, buy nutritious food, vitamins, and exercise equipment, get toys for our little girl, and enjoy life on our own terms, I can get a good night’s sleep.
I opt not to work full time so I can be fully present for my family, considering our special situation. My husband and I have both seen our fair share of trauma (him due to physical illness, and me due to my experiences in the public eye as a so-called “gifted child”), and we know what it does to kids, so we are trying our best to break old patterns and raise a mentally healthy child. That’s just the path we choose, of course.
Now and then, the idea of working full time crosses my mind, but I always decide against it after being reminded of my personal priorities. This leaves freelancing as my best option.
Freelancing is not all bad, as other freelancers might attest, but it comes with a set of unique challenges. For one, taxes are complicated. It’s also harder to get benefits or take out a loan from a bank. This, in turn, can make it difficult for a freelancer to establish their own life.
When one has a chronic illness or disability, traditional employment is not so easy to come by. A paper published in 2013 on the employment of PWDs in the Philippines notes that a significant percentage of PWDs are self-employed or in informal work arrangements. This means they are less likely to have access to employment benefits or social protection programs.
And yet, many PWDs work as freelancers, because it is often their best option, given the flexibility it offers. Even Jared is drawn to the freelancing life because it simply fits into our reality. He doesn’t have to worry about how to get to work if I’m not around to drive him to the office, or about telling an uptight boss that he’s taking a day off if he has an active bleed.
I simply pray that one day, freelancers will get more of the support they need to participate in society and reap the benefits of their hard work. Freelancing is an amazing work arrangement for PWDs and even their carers. One can argue that it can be quite erratic because contracts end and clients come and go, but with the right skill set, a freelancer should be able to find new clients and settle into a new “work normal.”
As a PWD family, Jared and I believe in the importance of finding a reliable income source. That way, we can uplift our lives and not have to depend too much on other people. I recently found out about Podium, an online job-seeking portal that aims to connect PWDs with interested employers. Seeing such resources become available to the public gives me hope.
With sufficient resources, we get to fund our passions and purchase meaningful experiences, such as travel and food. We get to live and not just survive — and for us, that’s very important. As Jared says, having a chronic illness automatically puts one in survival mode. Carers also experience this by extension. We must consciously spend our time doing things that we love, and making the most of every moment, to stay mentally well.
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