Monday, June 25, 2007

The World is Disabled

“A mad disabled psychologist dedicated himself to cure disabled world”

By Michael Yudha

A PEACE of smile was sent from a wheelchair. Hartono, owner of such smile has been sitting on it for more than thirty years. His body is tiny and is attacked by stroke, while his feet already disabled because of polio since he was ten years old. Only his left hand which can be moved welcomed my warm regard when I met him. My personal encounter with him reminded me to the extraordinary people such as Stephen Hawking and Helen Keller. They are few “superman” and “superwoman” who are physically disabled but still has amazing spirit of life and even able to give enlightenment to others through their inventions, works and solidarity movement. From them perhaps we should learn that principle of “dare to life” is truly need bigger courage than principle of “dare to death” as it is usually yell out by the actors of suicide bomb.

Trickle Down Effect
Hartono maybe is not as very well known as Hawking and Keller, but his strong spirit of life, his respect on life and his struggle and contribution to fill the world with his works are proper to be highly appreciated; two tombs up for him! He shared some stories with me in an event of commemorating Jogja’s earthquake held by Karina-KAS together with disabled community victim of earthquake in Griya Sehat Sejahtera, Jantiwarno, Klaten, end of May 2007. This 62 years old grandfather works as psychologist within CBR [Community Based Rehabilitation] project supported by Caritas Germany. So far, the CBR team has already assisted amount 130 disabled person by providing psychological consultation, medical treatment and therapy, economic recovery and advocacy.

Hartono acknowledge he has personal motivation to help his new friends who have similar case with him and was forced to sit in wheelchair. He believes his advice or consultancy to disabled people will be more meaningful because he also has already experienced disability. His main task is to give motivation, support in a consultancy form and increase their self confidence, it is a psychological consultation. “I found an indication that wife or husband will leave their pair because they feel tired every time they must help the pair now. For example; at two o’clock midnight a disabled husband woke his wife up. But the wife felt very tired because all day long she has already worked in paddy’s field, and still must care her husband again. Then such wife told her husband, “If situation still goes like now, I will go out soon, it will be better if you just divorce me, please, I will work abroad [as an Indonesian woman worker; TKW – red]!”

Internal family problem which become increase post earthquake disaster as it was informed by Hartono certainly also become our common concern. In Bantul for example; it was found tens of people suicide because they did not strong enough to carry on suffering. “I was informed by a doctor in a hospital in Bantul there were twelve people suicide already. Before earthquake, I assisted several disabled person with SCI [Spinal Cord Injuries], its disability age is high. I found tendencies of disabled person which its age around two to three years to do suicide is high. Maybe because they felt useless and could do nothing,” said Father Pius Riana Prapdi, Pr. [40 years old], health division coordinator of Karina-KAS.

Wise man said, “No man is an island.” This CBR project is managed to not separate and not to excommunicate disabled person from society, but keep them among us, keep receive their existence, just like how they are, among their family. “Very often people were sent to a special residence so-called “panti”, but not with CBR. CBR approach is totally different. Within CBR we want to wake people’s consciousness up that disabled person is not necessary to be separated from their family. Within CBR we; as a community, ensure that disabled person still have their rights as others. And the society should take its responsibility, welcome for their existence and to contribute their sense of solidarity in concrete action, minimally in family level,” said Hartono.

Disabled Person’s Rights
Family then really can become key factor to restore sense of self confidence of disabled person. Hartono’s personal experience has proved it. “I am the only child of my parent by accident. Both of them love me so much, they even sold all their valuable belonging just to cure my feet. If I cannot be a man [success] but fail, everything will fail. But if I can be, everything wills success. My parent’s patience and support, especially from my mother then became ammunition of my life. I promised myself I have to proof disabled person can do the same others can do. There will be no barrier to work anywhere, if there is a will, there will be. Unfortunately, discrimination still occurs until now, doesn’t it?”

Hartono’s complain regarding disabled person rights as stated above was not concocted. In Jogja, a popular city which is very well known of its hospitality and cultural rich, the presence of disabled person is still seen as low class citizen. The famous street of Malioboro, for example; as a centre where political power, capital and culture are integrated all together, is also does not friendly enough with disabled person. Special access way for disabled person had been robbed by power of capital and used it as parking area and street market for street vendor. “Malioboro street was built with special access for disabled person. But it became parking area and street market now. For this we need to do advocacy. But this will be a hard work because challenges will come from government and society themselves. Government sometime make unfair regulations which really discriminated certain community,” explained Father Riana.

It is not only related with social life, the disabled person’s rights is very often being eliminated. In Hartono’s case, once again, before and after his marriage which gave him three daughters, his neighborhoods even could not accept Hartono’s happiness, they used to condemn him. At that moment actually he was friendly enough. But several people said behind his back, “Who want to be my future wife? a wife for disable person like me?” Among of them also said whether I still able and strong enough to have sexual intercourse hahaha… [laughing]. Then I had a girlfriend. But her parent rejected me. They said what we can expect from disabled person like me. This just makes my self motivation higher. One day I have to prove I can do something, I promised my self. I had many closed relations with girls as my girlfriend. My wife now is my 21st girlfriend hahaha… [laughing]. When I married already, the neighborhoods still not welcomed us well. They said how strange it is that disabled person getting married finally. Another said why the woman wants to accept me as her husband; can I satisfy her on the bad? hahaha… [laughing]. I myself though it was God’s will,” again Hartono shared his personal life with me followed by his sense of humor.

Hartono and his beloved wife then agreed to become an entrepreneur by selling lemet [traditional Javanese cake from cassava with red sugar inside]. Hartono admitted they could sell amounting 10kg of lemet each day. His wife distributed it to several warung [traditional Javanese store]. The income was good enough. Some of it was used for paying his student fee in university and the rest was for daily needs. After getting permanent job, he told his wife that they should manage their family well. “I will responsible for making the income and you, my lovely wife, will responsible for caring our children and take care the house,” he told smilingly. So far this couple always stays together in harmony. Their wedding birthday is 34 years old now; they both are all healthy and happy. “My wife is normal people and healthy,” Hartono said.

Another disabled rights which are very often being discriminated is the rights to get proper education. Again, Hartono felt this bitter experience. When he finished his elementary school and tried to get higher education, he was rejected. He also faced similiar experience when he enrolled for senior high school. “Actually I have been received already as a student but rejected by the headmaster because of my paralyzed. He said if I joint in the classroom, other student will not able to concern on subject given. For me myself, it became a challenge. I came to the headmaster and said, “Please give me three months, if I cannot prove it then I will leave myself.” So for three months Hartono studied hardly and success to become the winner in such class. The headmaster then accepted him. He was always in the top rank three in school. “I was in the second rank when I graduated from senior high school. The headmaster came to me and said, “Have you find any university? If not, I will find one for you.” Afterward I just followed regular test and was accepted as psychology student in Gajah Mada University.

Corruption and Disability
The society’s attitude on Hartono’s case actually is just a peak of ice’s mountain of discrimination against disabled person. He has already felt and received so many unfair attitude almost along of his life and in the opposite perspective he can feel the society, the world is disabled also. It even more disabled than he himself. “Disabled can be divided into several categories; physical disabled, mental disabled, moral disabled, and social disabled. Like me myself, I can be categorized on having physical disabled. Those who work as prostitute perhaps can be categorized on having moral disabled. Mental disabled then refer to people who have lack of memory, the psychopath the can be example for social disabled. And corruptors, I think they are both mental disabled and psychopath hahaha… [laughing].

Hartono said corruptors can be categorized as a psychopath because financially they do not need more money. Like high rank official, their basic needs already full filled by state facilities. The house, vehicle, telephone, salary, everything is enough. But why they always feel everything is not enough and still corrupt? This he mentioned as a psychopath. “Psychopath is psychic pathology. It means the selfness is having sick’s selfness; it can be socio or psycho. It can not be healing totally and the only good therapy is just sent them to jail,” he said.

Living inside the disabled world and among corrupt society just makes Hartono became a strong man. When people treat him in impolite manner or unfair way, he will just act foolish. “In my friend’s point of view, I event have more self confident in comparison with non-disabled. My colleagues in office just call me a mad psychologist hahaha… [laughing].” He then shared one of his unforgettable moments, “At that time I have been getting stroke for two months. Then I took my leave for one month. I just worked at home for private consultancy practice. I went back to my office in Panti Rapih [hospital] the next month. My physical condition was still very weak, my body was tightened. Then a student of university came to me. He was looks very tired, stressful and said to me, “I want to have a consultation with the psychologist, Sir, are you also patient?” Maybe he thought I was the patient on waiting list. Then I answered smilingly, “No, but I am the real psychologist.” He was very surprised observing my condition; my body was tightened everywhere because of my stroke, I was so weak but still I could laughing gently. Suddenly he said, “Sir, I am looking your condition and I think my problem is just like a dust in comparison with yours. I am sure I can solve my problem by myself.” Then he left. This moment was very meaningful for me.”

Having personal conversation with this retired researcher in Research and Development of Social Department Special Region of Jogja gave me so many insights. Actually I won’t end on hearing his living story sharing. But suddenly I heard beautiful song sang by group band music of disabled invited me to joint with the crowd of villagers in front of a stage in the small garden of Griya Sehat Sejahtera. In other hand, my colleagues also asked me to joint with her and I asked Hartono also to joint with the event. When I walked beside this professional psychologist and seeing his wheelchair moving around, I were very sure Hartono already took care the disabled world and cured his surrounding society from his wheelchair. And I am sure now his consultancy practices also already healing the world. * * *