PUCHONG: Life in a wheelchair can be fulfilling, meaningful and full of hope, if Jeyaraj Santraju’s example is anything to go by.
Jeyaraj is passionate about rights for the disabled and their access to information.
“Many disabled people, especially those who suddenly become so, are not aware that they are eligible for certain allowances, such as those from the Welfare Department (JKM),” he said.
He also feels that the current economic situation should be taken into account by the relevant agencies.
“The disabled worker allowance from the JKM is RM350 now, and it would be much better if it were at least RM500,” he said yesterday.
The 38-year-old has released Guidance for Wheelchair Bound, a detailed how-to book based on his own experiences and research.
In 2006, an industrial accident in Singapore left Jeyaraj with spinal cord damage, and paralysed him from the waist down. The accident left Jeyaraj and his family reeling.
“I didn’t know how to do anything,” he said, adding that even the most mundane daily tasks seemed overwhelming.
But, his determined nature soon buoyed him.
He spent months at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s rehabilitation centre, where he was taught how to cope with his disability.
Jeyaraj married his wife Bavani, 41, soon after. Their son Phavickneyaraj is now three years old.
He is a member of the Independent Living & Training Centre Malaysia, which specialises in helping people with spinal cord injuries.
He soon started giving talks on living with disability at hospitals and schools. The feeling of helplessness is what Jeyaraj hopes to address with his book.
It’s filled with helpful advice, like how to pick a wheelchair. There are photos and instructions on how to do things, like pick up something that has fallen on the floor.
His next challenge will be to climb the 272 steps at Batu Caves temple. He has already done it four times prior, but will now be attempting to get it into the Malaysian Book of Records.
Archbishop Julian Leow, who launched the book at the Ozanam Service Centre said the book is an inspiration to those who want to overcome their own disabilities, whatever they are.
The book was published as a community empowerment project by the Society of St Vincent de Paul Selangor, which works with the marginalised. It is available at RM30 through the society, and will soon go online.