Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Blind Leading the Blind

Saddest thing you ever saw in five, four, three, two...

A seven year old blind, deaf mute with cerebral palsy. Can't see, hear, talk or even move. Can only cry, shit, eat and wait to die.

A headmistress of an English school, retired, screaming as aides pry her fingers open during a sponge bath.

An old man, in his seventies, at an old folks' home, talking about how his kids are going to take him home, either today or tomorrow.

A newspaper man, having lost all his mental faculties, shitting on his wheelchair.

Limbless Thai beggars crawling on the pavement, like a worm.

Today, I went to a birthday celebration held at a school/training center for mentally challenged kids and adults. The birthday was for one girl fortunate enough to be born healthy.

I went, even though I hate social gatherings. Going interpersonal with the unfortunate ones is not my idea of a relaxing afternoon. I'm no fucking saint, man.

I went, to get more information.

Apparently, centers such as those in Brickfields operate with half its funding from the Government. I suspect it is the same system with vernacular schools. One for one. Means you raise 50K, and the Government forks out 50K. This is what I suspect. I currently have no access to more accurate data.

In the 70s, autism and various versions of mental complication is a death sentence. I remember reading articles written in the 60s and 70s stating that those afflicted with some forms of mental impairments could only live to 17, 18 tops.

Nowadays, they live to 60, or longer.

Which means that the system to care for these people should also evolve with the times. And they have, in a way.

The center is constructing a hostel in Klang, set to be completed next year. Once fully operational, it will house a couple of hundred mentally disabled people. This makes it easier to contract them for factory work or menial jobs.

Say Pottery Barn wants 5000 bows on pots, they could send ribbons and pots to the place and pick them up later, after the workers are done with it.

Same system they have in Japan, where the mentally disabled gets to work at some factories, doing low-risk jobs.

Watching the ones who were there for vocational training, I think they can handle the responsibility. They're almost as independent as Chris Burke. You know Chris Burke? That guy on Life Goes On. He's an actor. Graduated, and is now a spokesperson for the National Down Syndrome Congress. Oh yeah. He's got Down Syndrome.

Brickfields also has one of the biggest centres for the blind I have been to. That one needs more funding, and more help.

The blind in this country usually gets training in playing music, massage or weaving. Fun skills, I suppose, but a more pragmatic approach is perhaps training them to be operators.

I have a blind friend who was a telephone receptionist at an insurance company. The company made three slots available for blind people. He was recently (three years ago. I hardly keep in touch with the guy) promoted to full receptionist.

ALL companies should have slots for blind people. I fucking hate it when blind people come to me and try to sell tissue paper. What the fuck, man? I know it could be lucrative, selling paper napkins to people, or playing music by the roadside, but telephone receptionists and operators as well as cab or even police despatcher is a far more logical job opportunity for the blind.

And massage? What, you want them to give handjobs or something? What the fuck, man?

Give them Braille computers or something.

I think it's time for us to stop turning these people into sad charity cases. They're not sad.

Don't give them tissues. Give them jobs. I mean, they can even be pilots. All you do nowadays, to fly a plane, is go in and punch a few buttons. And THEY rake in, what?, 20-100K a month?

Get the blind to pilot airplanes.

And as for politicians, man. I will bet money - real money - that if you take any politician in any constituency, and you pit him or her against a candidate who has a valid medical mental disability, that guy will beat the crap out of the politician?

It doesn't matter who. Karpal Singh? LGE? LKS? Nik Aziz? Nazri Aziz? Anwar?

And probably do a better job at that as well. I mean, they can't do worse, right?