Enabled disabled

December 7, 2009 – 10:47 am
Wheelchair convoy spreads message of mobility
WheelsMOBILE TROOPERS: Participants of the ‘Konvoi OKU 2009’ heading towards Pasar Seni LRT station in their wheelchairs Pic: Khairull Azry Bidin

The participants — ages ranging from 15 to 60 years — gathered at Berjaya Times Square as early as 8am, where they were divided into several groups.

Excitement filled the air prior to the flag-off, with many participants looking eager while they waited for instructions from the event coordinator, Heap Hope Angels.

“I’m excited to be part of this event,” said 43-year-old Chan Yoke Sin. “I hope it will create awareness among the people that we too can travel around like the others.

“At the same time, I also get to meet many friends. I have not met some of them, who are also here, for many years!”

The convoy was flagged off by Society and Welfare Department director-general, Datuk Meme Zainal Rashid, and the first pit stop was the Pasar Seni LRT station.

At the station, participants went around collecting donations from members of the public, who responded sportingly. The procession then embarked on the Light Rail Transit (LRT) from Pasar Seni to KLCC LRT station – to highlight the need to make public transportation accessible to all disabled persons.

The convoy had lunch at KLCC before heading back to Berjaya Times Square. They arrived at their final destination around 3pm.

Organised by the Beautiful Gate Foundation for the Disabled, in collaboration with Society of Independent Living for Disabled Persons and D to D services, the event was the first of its kind.

About 156 volunteers — from various NGOs and higher learning institutions — helped out at the event.

Event coordinator Sean Lai said that the event was an eye-opener “Hopefully, the convoy was able to show that the disabled are able  to think independently regardless of the severity of their disability.”

Have wheels will travel

Fatimah EASY RIDER: Fatimah’s wheelchair has a siren

KUALA LUMPUR: When Fatimah Palaney Abdullah, 54, received word about the Konvoi OKU 2009 — where  disabled persons embarked on a convoy around the city — the little woman was naturally excited.

“I’ve always loved travelling,” quipped Fatimah. “I travel to and from Setiawangsa to Bangsar every day, so  I’m used to moving about. But it’s more fun to do it with more people!”

But how does the pint-sized Fatimah, who suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta — a condition where one’s bones are brittle and weak — travel around the city so easily despite her ailment?

It is with the help of her electronic wheelchair which she purchased for RM9,000 with hard-earned money.

Fatimah earns money through her simple business outside TMC supermarket in Bangsar, where she sells a variety of items; from cartoon stickers for children to socks and earrings.

On Aug 5, The Malay Mail published a heart-warming piece about how Fatimah’s grit and determination helps her deal with daily challenges.

“For many years, I saved up to buy this electronic wheelchair. Now, I am very proud of it,” said Fatimah, who
bought the wheelchair early this year. “I don’t have to trouble people any more as I can go about on my own.”

All sorts of wheelchairs were spotted at Konvoi OKU 2009 — electronic and manual alike — but Fatimah’s  ‘ride’ stood out the most.

That’s because her wheelchair is equipped with a flashing siren, blinking rear lights and is adorned with cartoon stickers. It also has a loud honk.

“I specially asked for my wheelchair to have a flashing siren. The siren is used to alert other people, so they notice me. I think mine is the most special one here,” beamed Fatimah proudly.

Her wheelchair is a locally-manufactured model, produced by a group of disabled persons with 20 years of personal experience in the use of wheelchairs.

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