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Kurnia Adil Telaumbanua (27)

I am the son of a fisherman in Nias with a disability since I was 3 years old.  At the age of 3, I had a fever and my right leg became paralyzed afterwards. At that time, I felt part of my right leg was painful and very hot. Perhaps because of limited knowledge on health, my family thought that the pain was due to ‘black magic’. They seek treatment from a traditional witchdoctor. I still remember how hard my parents tried to find cure for me.

I often asked why I came into the world with such a disability like this. I could not accept my disability that caused life that is full of limitations, often being mocked by people , ignored, and so forth. However, as time passed by I tried to accept this reality.

I worked as a sailor for six years. I learned how to fix boats and how to create / design a boat (motorized boats) with weights 1 to 5 Tonnes. Earning some money, I tried to repair our severely damaged house with my brother. Thus I worked very hard to provide for my family and myself for six years.

One day an uncle told me that there was a learning program that was equivalent to senior high school. Initially I was not interested because I thought that a senior high school certificate would not get me a job, let alone a senior high school equivalent certificate was considered to be of lower standard. Thanks to my family’s encouragement and the afternoon school schedule, I was able to join the learning group. Moreover, the learning activity took place at Dian Otomosi Hotel, about 200 meters from my house. I could still earn money on the other half-day.

Coinciding with the time I finished the education, an earthquake of 8.9 Richter scale magnitude hit Nias on Easter Monday in March 2005. It was the strongest earthquake I have ever felt in my life. At the beginning of the earthquake, we guessed that it was not very strong as we used to feel an earthquake, but the earthquake became stronger and stronger for about 3 or 4 minutes. Inside the house all the furniture like tables, cupboards, plate racks, wall clock and so fell apart. The roof of our house was all destroyed, thank God I could save late my mother.

If I take the wisdom of the disaster, it was God’s incredible plan. The disaster attracted attention to us, persons with disability in Nias, who were previously neglected. Some NGOs like PRY (Yakkum Rehabilitation Centre) and YEU (Yakkum Emergency Unit) attended to the special needs of persons with disability. They helped me to get an assistive device to improve my mobility. I was very pleased and almost a month after that I was given a calliper so that I could walk without having to hold my weak. Since using the assistive device, I gained higher confidence and had a remarkable spirit. I became confident to continue my education to study at one of the colleges in Nias, and I chose STIE (School of Economics) because at that time it was the only college that had classes in the afternoon, so that I had a chance to have a better job. I could finish my study at School of Economics with very satisfactory results with support from PRY that found funding for my study so that I could get a scholarship.

During and after studying at the school of edconomics, I was often involved in village activities and various organizationsm which I as a person with disability was not before. I was even approached by one high-ranked political party to be active in politics. I intend to promote disability issues and empower fellow persons with disability. Currently I am the chairperson of a cooperative of persons with disability and a Disabled Person Organisation. I plan to empower persons with disability and very poor people who have been neglected regardless of status, class, race, religion and so forth because persons with disability have the same rights as other people. Persons with disability should be given the opportunity in health, education, job, organisation, social, etc. This is a very tough job to make the government to realise this and do their job appropriately, and I dream that the government pay attention to disability issues.

I would like to thank PRY and Expanding Horizon, the donor that enabled me to complete my education. May God bestow blessings and long life because there are still a lot of friends with disability who really need a helping hand.