Monday, February 01, 2010


Are we compassionate towards people with impairment (or 'OKU' as society labels them)? Truly, you will not understand the challenges they face, unless it happens to you or a loved one.

Last week I went for a foot reflexology massage at a centre operated by vision impaired masseurs (betul ke ejaan aku nih? hehe). Their impairment range from partial vision to total blindness. Although their eyes do not see, but their well-trained fingers reveal health-related things about you that you may not even be aware of!

Anyway, that's not what this post is about (although the masseur was able to tell that my vision is not perfect i.e thick glasses, I do not drink enough plain water, and that my bowel movement is not as good as it should be - all these within minutes of touching my toes, go figure!).

We chatted as she went about her work. Out of curiosity, I asked how she managed her money, if she could tell one ringgit notes from another. She said the old notes were easier to figure out, because they were of distictly different sizes and 'feel' (texture?). RM1 was smaller than RM5, which is smaller than RM10. RM50 is widest and RM100 is longer. But these days, the notes are almost similar in size, except for RM5 notes which is easily recognized because of it's different material component.

Wow. I've never thought out how our changing currency notes can affect the blind. A few days before that, my masseur and a friend had gone to a pizza place for a meal. Paying for the RM20 meal, the friend handed over a RM100 note to the waiter, and the waiter returned the balance to my masseur, the notes being folded haphazardly. See how the waiter duped them? When my masseur received the RM30 balance, she thought that her friend had paid with a RM50 note. But instead, they were short-changed of RM50. They only realized this after they had walked all the way back to their workplace.

So they returned to the crime scene and demanded the waiter to return their money. The waiter didn't even ask for a receipt or anything, and just handed over a RM50 note before shoo-ing them out of the pizza place. Obviously he knew their claim was genuine la. But how could he knowingly cheat them of their hard-earned money, by using their impairment as a weapon against them?

These are decent, honest and hard-working people. They do not take the easy way of becoming beggars on the streets. Instead they learned a skill, trained for years, work for 10 hours a day just to earn a living. Getting up in the morning every day is already a challenge to them, they do not need the extra worry of being victimised by so-called 'orang sempurna'. We've got a few things to learn from them about honesty, hope and perseverance.

It's a good thing my masseur was vision-impaired, otherwise she would've seen the shame I felt, listening about this incident.

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