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Disability? Who Says So?

Disability? Who Says So?
May 03
19:30 2019

Early risers and radio listeners tuning into Love FM every morning have by now gotten accustomed to hearing the friendly, soothing voice of disc jockey Donovan Reneau, 50, on the airwaves.

Reneau, a DJ and radio announcer for close to thirty years is fully blind but yet gets up every day and goes to his work at Love FM where he labours with love and provides his faithful listeners with the best of music, special requests and even flash news.

Reneau’s determination to make his own money and be fully independent despite his blindness is nothing short of an inspiration. He is a beacon of hope to those like himself and even those who suffer from other disabilities in life.

Thirty-five years ago, on Easter Monday while returning home from a horse race with some friends, a drunk driver collided into their vehicle, changing the lives of two people forever. Reneau said none of the occupants died in that collision but he lost two of his eyes while one of his friend’s hands was amputated.

Reneau explained what his life was like going from being normal to fully blind in the blink of an eye – ”At first I was angry. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I was very ignorant and did not want anybody to mess with me. I went through that stage but I learned how to work through Stella Maris, then through BVCI which taught me some basic mobility skills, proper hygiene and to read braille. Overall they teach and encourage you to be an independent person despite your disability, to live your daily life so that you can work instead of begging on the streets. Over the years I have had a lot of incidents and would drop in drains a lot, but thankfully I am getting around. Sometimes when I am walking and not using the cane properly I would run into problems but overall I am surviving and would say that once you can think you can work.”

Prior to the accident, Reneau was attending high school but then faced with his disability he had to withdraw and attend Stela Maris where he managed to finish his education. Pursuing a dream of a broadcasting career and with assistance from friends, he attended several seminars and training and even went to the University of the West Indies. That led him to become a radio announcer at Radio Belize and then later on to Love FM.

One year ago Reneau’s life got even more difficult when his wife died. But despite that tragedy, Reneau says that he is coping with the loss and still manages to get around his small home and do his daily house chores, including the laundry, ironing his clothes, feeding his dogs and even buying his own groceries as well as catching the bus to go downtown and run his errands. The only thing that Reneau says he cannot do is cook and so he has to purchase food every day.

The Reporter asked Reneau whether he considers using a guide dog to get around and he confirmed that he does have guide dogs at home but rather not use them because they can be ferocious to strangers. Reneau told the Reporter that despite his blindness, on several occasions he has been attacked and robbed.

When it comes to his work, Reneau maintains that he is confident with the training and experience that he has gotten over the years and has gotten used to using the manual pieces of equipment at his workplace. He explained that he would listen to the songs off the air before playing them on the radio, and if any requests come in he would also take those.

Reneau advised persons of all background to be positive in anything that they do and to make the best of every opportunity that comes their way. If that doesn’t work, Reneau says that prayers surely will.

In his advice to other blind and disabled individuals Reneau ended off by saying – ”It is a pretty difficult road but you have to have a strong mind. If it ever happens to you, you just have to believe in yourself and you will be able to do it and achieve anything you put your mind to. You just got to say that you can and never say that you can’t. Never speak negative of yourself and always have faith.”

Over the years Reneau has managed to collect multiple awards in his field of work, as well as several broadcasting awards and an award for the Disabled but Able program from Radio Belize.

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