Battler eyes Rio
Great things come in small packages, as Tawa Rotary members discovered during a visit from an Indonesian Paralympian last month.
Rotary hosted disabled weightlifter Nengah Widiarsih, and disability worker I Nengah Latra, both of whom have overcome polio to achieve great things, thanks to the support of New Zealand charity Rehabilim Trust.
Rehabilim was founded in 1982 to support work by late Kapiti man Colin McLennan, who established a centre in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, for the rehabilitation of children from poor families with physical handicaps.
Mr McLennan was a mentor to Latra, who mentored 19-year-old Nengah who was unable to walk and had never been to school until she met Latra a decade ago.
Under Latra’s care she underwent 40 hours of surgery, was sent to school, and took to weightlifting in 2006.
Weighing just 39 kilograms herself, Nengah lifted 78kg at the London Paralympics, earning her a fifth placing.
She has a clutch of medals, many gold, from athletics events around the world, and was the only woman in Indonesia’s four-strong Paralympics team.
Rehabilim Trust chairman Bill Russell said disabled people faced significant challenges in Indonesia, where disability was often seen as a punishment for sin in previous lives.
‘‘Indonesia doesn’t give disabled people the same rights. New Zealand doesn’t know how lucky they are,’’ he said.
Mr Russell took Latra and Nengah to the Riding for the Disabled centre in Kenepuru, and to see the state-of-the-art disability facilities at Kimi Ora School in Wellington. The chairlifts particularly impressed Latra, he said.
‘‘That blew his mind away. There’s nothing like that in Bali. I doubt there’s anything like that in Indonesia.’’
Mr Russell said Nengah had come far in her sport in just a few years, and was destined for great things at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Mr Latra said that in Indonesia disabled people were hidden from the community and did not go to school.
He has assisted 4000 disabled people at his Yakkum centre in Bali.
Weighty matters: Indonesian Paralympian weightlifter Nengah Widiarsih, centre, visited Porirua and Tawa recently with disability worker I Nengah Latra, right, hosted by Rehabilim Trust chairman Bill Russell.