Common voice needed
WHEEL POWER By ANTHONY THANASAYAN
The disabled community needs to be seen and heard.
I RECEIVED an interesting e-mail from a new friend I made recently. Daniel Ahmad Sharani who lives in Petaling Jaya, writes: “People often ask me if I was born a quadriplegic. The answer to that question is no,” says Daniel. Showing Support: Daniel Ahmad Sharani holding a playcard in the middle towards the controversial pedestrian pavement along Jalan Gasing is a pilot project for barrier-free access in Petaling Jaya.
“I was a healthy young boy who grew up just like any other normal kid in the neighbourhood.
“I was an energetic kid who participated in numerous recreational activities even though books should have been the order of the day.”
Daniel was actively involved in sports, especially football.
“I enjoyed almost everything I did. I thought life could only get better once I was done with school and all the exams.”
However, Daniel had no idea how his life would change suddenly.
“My active lifestyle came to a halt, hardly a month before my 18th birthday.
“I recall everything vividly,” says Daniel. “That fateful day kicked off perfectly.
Together with my best friend who had just purchased a brand new bike, we had spent quite a bit at the nearby arcade we regularly frequented.
“Both of us were in a jovial mood while shooting balls before proceeding to a different location to meet up with some friends.
“That was when it happened. A lady driver knocked both of us off my friend’s new bike. That accident claimed my friend’s life, and it changed my life forever.”
Daniel, who has riding pillion, sustained spinal injuries which left him paralysed.
It was only after he was discharged from hospital that reality set in.
“It was a very painful reality,” recalls Daniel. “Never in my life had I felt so dejected.
Once I used to think that life was full of promises within my reach. But after the accident I struggled to keep alive.”
The accident kept Daniel down most of the time. Instead of tagging along with his buddies like he used to, most of his time was now spent at home.
The depression affected his family members. Friends who used to laugh with him once soon stopped coming.
It was Daniel’s family membrs who helped him pull through that dark period.
“I am thankful that my family stood by me all the way. They were there for me as a much-needed morale booster.
"Looking back, I wouldn’t trade their love and support for anything. Their role was vital in lifting up my spirit and getting me back on my feet.
“Fortunately, people don’t stare at you as much as they used to in the past. I’ve learnt that it’s all about mental strength.
Once that area is beefed up, you’re game to take on bigger challenges. The outside world can be mean to people with limited physical mobility.
“Generally, rational people are willing to ‘wheel’ with us to make the environment disabled-friendly. It all boils down to upholding our rights and standing up for them.
“Many in the community are not aware of the rights of the disabled. It is the disabled community that needs to get the ball rolling. We have a long way to go. Without a collective voice, it’ll take a longer time before we are heard.
“We need to crank up the decibel a few notches for the authorities to notice our presence and needs,” adds Daniel.