FOR those who are not able to move on their own, the wheelchair is their only means to being independent. A new wheelchair can be quite expensive and not every one of those who need it can afford one.
Sally Lau, 40, was among the 12 disabled folk who received new wheelchairs, courtesy of Star Foundation, the charitable arm of Star Media Group.
Lau, who became disabled at the age of six due to a fall, remembers the first time her family bought her a wheelchair. She was 12 years old.
“I remember the sense of freedom it gave me when I could finally move on my own. My aunt bought me my first manual wheelchair. Before that I always laid in bed.
“For the poor, even basic wheelchairs are expensive. These days, the more sophisticated ones cost between RM8,000 and RM9,000, ” said Lau.
Thanks to her new wheelchair, she now looks forward to moving around to farther locations such as the market and malls.
“This is my first motorised wheelchair and I am thrilled with this gift from Star Media Group, ” said Lau, a clerk with a government organisation.
Wheelchairs worth a total of RM50,380 were donated to the members of the Malaysia Spinal Injury Association (Masia).
Star Media Group senior corporate communications manager Siti Hajar Abdul Rahman said the foundation learned that a group of disabled people with spinal injuries were in need of special wheelchairs.
“Given the special functions and customisation, these wheelchairs come at a high cost. It is a financial burden for those who cannot afford it. However, these wheelchairs, especially the motorised ones, will provide great ease to the recipients so that they can enjoy better quality of life.
“This project is the brainchild of Star Media Group chairman Datuk Fu Ah Kiow, who is passionate about helping the disabled and children needing medical attention, ” she said.
Masia vice-president Law King Kiew said some manual wheelchair users found it difficult to move their wheelchairs with their hands. As such, they need motorised ones to move quickly and with ease.
“A basic wheelchair that needs to be hand-wheeled costs about RM1,300. We cannot go far with this because it is tiring to keep on pushing the handles with our hands.
“With motorised wheelchairs, some disabled folk can even do some tasks such as selling tissues and going to work, ” she said, adding that manually-operated wheelchairs last a maximum of just five years.
“They don’t last as long and we need a backup too. Otherwise, when our only wheelchair is under maintenance, we have to stay in bed and cannot go about our daily lives, ” said Law, who was grateful for Star Foundation’s help.
She hopes others will emulate the foundation’s generosity as there are many underprivileged folk among the disabled.
Another wheelchair recipient Thayalan Vellayan, 32, said he looked forward to a holiday in Port Dickson.
“With this lightweight wheelchair, I can travel and have a more active lifestyle, ” said Thayalan who works from home.
Abdul Manan Zaharin, 56, said his new wheelchair was lighter and easier to fold, and store in vehicles.
Star Foundation is the charitable arm of Star Media Group aimed at delivering meaningful initiatives with lasting outcomes to a diverse group of beneficiaries. For details, visit starfoundation.com.my