Judy cried out in pain when the doctors tried to straighten her arms and legs
It was the sixties and at that time there was an outbreak of infants born with deformed or missing limbs: I was one of those victims.
At the time when I was born, my parents were shocked because all my limbs were badly deformed. My legs were also very much shorter than normal. The doctors did not disclose the cause of my disability.
As an infant, I underwent several operations and many hours of therapy to straighten my legs and hands. My grandmother used to tell me that during these therapy sessions, I would scream because of the pain.
Had a normal life
When I was young, I began a long and tedious process of learning how to walk with the aid of callipers and a walking frame. However I must add that despite my disability, my parents made sure that I led a normal life just like by brother and sisters. I was fortunate to have attended a regular school after my parents constantly persuaded the school principal to allow me to be enrolled.
At that time, disability was something that you don't hear very much of. The only other disabled person whom I knew was a schoolmate who suffered from polio. After completing my education, I tried to look for a job for more than a year. After many unsuccessful applications, I managed to get a job as a clerk.
"My disability was caused by the Thalidomide drug"
After I started to work I joined an organisation for the physically disabled known as the Handicaps Welfare Association. There I came to know other disabled persons. Over the years, I have met only a handful of members who also suffered from deformity of limbs. Some of them were also missing arms and legs. They were also around my age group. I learnt that during the period when we were born, many infants had been born with deformed limbs or without limbs at all. I concluded that my disability could have been caused by the Thalidomide drug.
After many years of working for the same company, I felt a need to upgrade myself. So with financial assistance from the company, I went back for further my studies. In fact I have just completed my 3 year diploma course in Computer Studies and I have recently gone back to work. I truly appreciate the opportunity given by the company to allow me further my studies.
Hobbies and Interest
Being disabled has not stopped me from enjoying life. In fact I have done many things which I may not have done if I was not disabled. I have had the opportunity to canoe to nearby islands, water ski, scuba dive, and of course travel.
You may have guessed by now that I enjoy all types of water sports. When I was a child, my parents would take us to the beach on weekends and teach us how to swim. Later I took formal swimming lessons and became a competent swimmer. I have been fortunate to be able to represent my country, Singapore in International Sports Meet for the Disabled.
One of the reasons why I enjoy swimming so much is that I have this sense of freedom in the water, that are no barriers and I am not hindered by my walking sticks or wheelchair. I am free to move as I wish.
Handicaps Welfare Association
The Handicaps Welfare Association (HWA) is a self-help voluntary organisation for physical disabled adults. It is managed by the disabled for the disabled since 1969. I have been a part of the Management Committee of the organisation for the past 8 years. Part of the efforts of the association is to integrate the disabled into society.
The Association provides various welfare services and runs a Rehabilitation Centre and a Transport Service to ferry the members to work, hospital visits and social visits. It also conducts educational courses to give members an opportunity to improve themselves so as to be able to find suitable employment. Sports and other recreational activities are also organised to help integrate the disabled into society.
Over the past years, the Association has worked with the relevant authorities to make Singapore a more accessible place for the disabled especially those on wheelchairs. However, the public transport system is presently not accessible to wheelchairs users. The wheelchair users can only take the taxi or special transport service provided by voluntary organisation, e.g. HWA.
I have been very fortunate that despite my disability, I have been able to accomplish many things. My advice to people with disabilities is wherever possible; strive to attain the highest educational qualifications that you can. Look beyond your disability and have confidence in yourself. What matters most is what you can do.
I hope that someday soon, people with disabilities all over the world will have equal opportunities in education, employment transportation and be able to integrate fully into society.
Judy Wee Tillbaka till toppenTillbaka till toppen