Bat­tler eyes Rio

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION / NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

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.

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