The Handicapped Friendly Nation – Many Stories… One Singapore

BY JANET PUAH

I have a story to tell to Singapore. Fellow Singaporeans and the rest of the world, I contracted Poliomyelithis when I was 10 months old in the late 1950s.

Life was difficult for me then as a disabled person. You see, I was born in Singapore at a time when most Singaporeans were struggling to make ends meet. My parents were no different.

Life was not easy as a handicapped person. I was no doubt a burden to my family, where each year, they had to borrow money from our neighbors to replace my mobility aids as I was out-growing them at a rapid rate. Traveling by public transport was another major problem for me, as I had to travel daily back and forth from school and the buses were not designed for handicapped people. Sanitation was another issue. Many people used to share the single toilet facility under my zinc-roofed house. In those days we used the “bucket system” which was not very efficient or hygienic. It often meant that the bodily wastes from previous users would be left on the floor of the toilet. Considering my limitations in moving effectively, you can imagine how I had no choice but to step on excrement each time I went to relieve myself.

Since then, things have changed a lot. Singapore has become a much better, kinder and gracious place for me to live in.

1) Today, I wear a pair of special shoes and have the aid of crutches (Provided by a government hospital) to help me move around independently and freely.

2) With the government’s subsidy for single citizens, I now own a 3-room HDB flat with modern sanitation and a proper toilet bowl.

3) Lastly, I do not have to struggle with transport problems any more – with the government’s help, I drive a special hand-controlled car to aid me in my movement all over Singapore.

I am so glad to have been born and bred in Singapore. Everyday I count my blessings for being born here. I have witnessed the swift and practical changes that Singapore has undergone to make herself more handicap friendly. With less infrastructural barriers, handicapped people like myself can enjoy better mobility and independence.

Thank you, and Happy 48th Birthday Singapore!!!

source :  The Handicapped Friendly Nation

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