First brick

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIFESTYLE -

LAST Fri­day, a ground-break­ing cer­e­mony which was like no other, took place in Rawang, Se­lan­gor. Nearly 150 peo­ple gath­ered at Kam­pung Sungei Tam­ba­han Dua to wit­ness the lay­ing of the first brick of a brand new build­ing that would bring hope to the dis­abled com­mu­nity.

Nearly half of the crowd were peo­ple with phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties. I was there, too.

With their wheel­chairs, walk­ing sticks and crutches, about 60 dis­abled guests braved the nar­row roads and rough tracks lead­ing to an empty site sur­rounded by thick grass, shrubs and trees.

It is here that the dis­abled cen­tre will be built. The force be­hind this project is an NGO called the In­de­pen­dent Liv­ing and Train­ing Cen­tre (ILTC) which has been op­er­at­ing at a rented build­ing about 2km away.

The new piece of land was given to the cen­tre in 2005 by for­mer Rawang assem­bly­man Datuk Tang See Hang. To date the ILTC has col­lected RM380,000 and needs an­other RM570,000 to make up the RM950,000 needed for the build­ing.

The new dis­abled cen­tre has turned out to be timely for the ILTC group as the own­ers of their present premises want the build­ing back. It’s now a race against time to com­plete the cen­tre as they have to move out by Au­gust next year.

The ground­break­ing cer­e­mony was a sim­ple af­fair. It was of­fi­ci­ated by Se­lan­gor ex­ec­u­tive councillor Dr Xavier Jayaku­mar.

Set up in 2000, the ILTC cur­rently has close to a dozen cit­i­zens. Res­i­dents stay at the cen­tre for a pe­riod of time to learn in­de­pen­dent liv­ing skills. These in­clude tak­ing care of them­selves and pick­ing up new skills such as driv­ing, cook­ing and com­puter train­ing. These ser­vices are pro­vided free of charge.

ILTC founder and pres­i­dent Francis Siva, 50, has been paral­ysed from the neck down fol­low­ing a driv­ing ac­ci­dent about 25 years ago. He spent more than five years in the hos­pi­tal af­ter the ac­ci­dent. He was de­pressed and sui­ci­dal un­til he met two other pa­tients who taught him the value of life.

One was a ter­mi­nally ill young man on the bed to his right. He had wanted so much to live but can­cer took his life the week af­ter. Se­lan­gor ex­ec­u­tive councillor Dr Xavier Jayaku­mar (right) about to lay the first brick for the new build­ing for the In­de­pen­dent Liv­ing and Train­ing Cen­tre.

The other, a pa­tient on his left, was worse off than Francis be­cause he could not move his body at all. And yet he re­mained cheer­ful through­out un­til he died.

It took Francis a good two years to fight off his de­pres­sion. When he came out of it, he re­or­gan­ised his life and moved on to form the ILTC.

Francis now runs the ILTC to­gether with help from his sec­re­tary, Gur­dip Kaur, who also uses a wheel­chair.

With this new build­ing in the pipe­line, the dis­abled can look for­ward to an­other new chap­ter in their lives.

Those who are able to help, can con­tact Francis (% 019-338 5959) or visit iltc­malaysia. blogspot.com or e-mail: iltc­malaysia@gmail. com.

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