Sunday, 19 December 2010

Japanese Disabled People Assist disabled in East Timor.

Tempo Semanal-Dili, 19.12.2010

Ms. Takada Kumiko
firsts wheel chair sent from Japan via Tempo Semanal arrived for Benedita do Rosario alias Ika. Ika is the daughter of Antonio da Silva Verdial and Sofia do Rosario Caldas. Ika became disabled after East Timor became a free nation via August 30th 1999 UN Referendum. 

After the ballot result was announced on September 4th 1999 Ika who was only 1 year old baby was taken by her parents running for their lives from Pro Jakarta Militia violence to the hills around Manu-Fahi district. “During that time we were sleeping in the bush. There were a lot of mosquito and under cool weather. As a young kid she couldn’t resist the weather and she get sick. We did not return until to the city until December 1999 at which time Ika got very sick from aalaria,” explained her mother.
Ika and her father
At that time all medical facilities had been destoryed by the militia.  “She was so ill that at one stage she couldn’t move her two legs.  Until today she has remained disabled." her mother said with tears.
Ika’s parents want her to go to school but the young girl rejected to do so because she does not want to bother her parents. “Every morning Ika always seats outside our home to watch other kids going to school. Sometimes I can see tears in her eye. So it’s painful to see my daughter suffering. Our daughter wants to study as other kids but she cannot walk alone as normal kids because she is disabled,” Antonio told Tempo Semanal.

In November this year a Tempo Semanal journalist delivered to Ika the wheelchair from disable friends in Japan and is now a very happy girl. In early November Ika told her grandmother that, “now I want to go to school.”

Ika’s grandmother as well as her parents is very happy to hear her decision because for the first time she made up her mind to go to school.  “This wheel chair helps me to move around as well as help me to go to school now,” said the 12 year old girl.

She asked Tempo Semanal Journalists about the wheel chair. “It’s a present from a friend of yours in Japan. I have never met her. But Ms. Takada sent it through a East Timor Japanese hero who always supports our independence struggle. He used to visit, stay and suffer for this country since 1992 until today and his name is Tosi.” explained the journalist.

“I am proud of her kindness; please pass on my respect and warm regard to Ms. Takada and our Japanese friends,” Ika said.      

Ika is a talented kid as she can sing, write and reads as a student. Ika’s mother really appreciated the help of the Japanese benefactor. “With this wheel chair, she can move around, she can visit our neighbors. We are very happy to see this improvement. Thanks to our Japanese friend,” she told Tempo Semanal in December this year.

Tosihide first visited East Timor in October 1992. Since then he and other friends always visit East Timor. Tosi is the only foreigner who has occasionally visited the resistance leaders from the clandestine movement and guerilla fighters including met David Alex (June 1996), Konis Santana (February 1997), Late Mau Rebo (1996),Taur Matan Ruak, Lere, and many others. Until today only few people aware of Tosi’s past activity. Since 2000 up to 2009 Tosi has still been committed to this country. He works together with another East Timor Independence Hero, Michio Takahasi to help East Timor by produce some books of “Hakerek Kona ba Timor.”

“Group for Sending Wheelchairs to East Timor” is the citizen group to support East Timor by sending wheelchairs was founded in Japan on 20 May 2010. The group is representative by Ms. Takada Kumiko, based in Hirosaki city, Aomori prefecture, Japan Two other after the group formed the 1st wheelchair was sent on 22 May 2010, and it was received by Tempo Semanal on 16 August 2010.

“East Timor, the first ever country which got independent in the 21st century, has a long history of struggle for freedom, which has caused the situation in which a lot of people may still be suffering from difficulties psychologically and physically,” said in a statement sent to Tempo Semanal by Tosi.

 “Group for Sending Wheelchairs to East Timor” is the NGO for disable and non-disable people to work together to support people in difficulties in East Timor by sending wheelchairs to East Timor. Representative of “Group for Sending Wheelchairs to East Timor” Ms. Takada Kumiko said, “I was born disabled.”

“When I was a kid, there was no such thing as wheelchair. Therefore, if I must move, my parents must carry me. When I participated in a school-trip at primary school, I found myself in my father’s back because I still didn’t have my wheelchair,” she explains.

She said that was in 1969, when 24 years had passed since the end of World War II.
“What I didn’t notice at that time was my parents may have had a real hard time for me. When I was given a wheelchair, I was happy because I felt free and I was happy because I felt I was connected with the world,” Ms Takada said.

“Now looking at East Timor, 8 years have passed since it got independence. I think there are many people who need wheelchairs. So, I would like to support people like me in East Timor by sending wheelchairs, with which many disable people can make their own lives better,” Ms. Takada Kumiko hoped.

“Ms. & Mr. Takada are my friends in Aomori. We started to know each other through citizen’s movement in late 1980s. Her husband Mr. Takada Masashi is not a disable person. I always tell them the story about East Timor, and they are interested in East Timor. They have a dream to visit East Timor someday even though she has physical difficulties,” Tosi told Tempo Semanal.

The name of Ms. Takada’s disease is cerebral palsy, normally called “CP”. “I saw 4 ~ 5 with CP persons in Dili almost every day. Staff in the physical rehabilitation center in Becora, ASSERT, said that there were many CP persons in East Timor, but they are confined to their homes because of variouus difficulties." said Tosi.

Tempo Semanal was told that there are more wheel chairs are on the way from Japan to East Timor. (TS).

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