Disabled celebrate Independence Day


Wasti Atmodjo & Ni Komang Erviani , The Jakarta Post , Denpasar |
Thu, 08/21/2008 10:24 AM | Surfing Bali

Wiratni, a patient at the hospital for mentally disabled people in
Bangli, Bali, sobbed as she accepted toiletries from a visiting member
of the Bali Bloggers Community (BBC) on Indonesia’s Independence day
last Friday.

“Thank you so much. Don’t forget us. Drop by often. I’m so happy you
came,” she said with tears running down her cheeks.

Wiratni was one of the few participating patients in an event held by
the BBC to celebrate Indonesia’s 63rd anniversary. The celebration in
the hospital was vastly different from the rambunctious celebrations
happening elsewhere.

Like Wiratni, many patients of the hospital felt abandoned. Made
Lamben, who was allowed to return home a few days prior, was still
waiting for someone to come and collect him.

“I’ve been here for four months. Everyone here is very nice. They said
I was allowed to go home but no one came to pick me up,” Lamben said.

There was no sad tone in his voice, but his cheerless eyes portrayed
an agonized heart.

“I have children and grandchildren, but none of them came to see me,”
said Nyoman Cagal, another patient.

During the BBC’s visit, evidence that the hospital was celebrating
Independence day could only be ascertained from the flag-raising
ceremony that was held earlier in the morning. The flag hung in the
front field of the hospital’s 7-hectare confinement area: The lone
flag and vast empty landscape spoke volumes of the solitary feeling of
many of the hospital’s patients.

“It is a holiday, so as soon as the flag-hoisting ceremony is over,
most of our nurses go home, leaving only a few us to keep watch,” said
hospital deputy director Made Sugiharta Yasa while greeting members of
the BBC.

During the visit, about 60 members of the BBC handed around cleaning
tools, instant noodles, books, clothing and toiletries.

A mini-soccer competition, marble race and music show by the Animo ban
livened up the mood, though only a few of the hospital’s 283 patients
were able to participate, most were resting in the wards due to their

According to Made Santiasih, head of the hospital services department,
many poor- and middle- income families abandon their sick relatives in
the hospital.

He said he was thankful the BBC could visit the patients at the hospital.

“We try to do this every year because it’s good therapy for our
patients. We are very thankful that there are still people who are
willing to give attention and provide them with entertainment,”
Santiasih said.

Meanwhile, at Semawang Beach, Sanur, Denpasar, physically disabled
people from the Senang Hati Foundation were enjoying a day out.

Wayan Parwati, Wayan Aris, Wayan Sugianto and Komang Susanta had fun
diving six meters below the surface of the ocean together with 24
expert divers to hoist the red-and-white underwater.

“I’m a little nervous. But I’m happy,” said the 27 year-old Wayan
Parwati, who lost the use of her legs when she was a child.

As the ceremony began, Parwati took her position holding one end of
the flag. The ceremony leader gave the signal to place the flag on a
rope tied to an anchor on the lower end and a buoy on the upper end.

Parwati released Indonesia’s national flag and it waved in the ocean’s
undercurrent. The other participants of the ceremony gave a salute and
kissed the flag before swimming back to the surface.

“I am so proud. If they’re having another event like this next year,
I’ll definitely join,” Parwati said.

Event committee chairman Gentry Amalo was even happier. He said the
event had proven that disabled people could achieve things that normal
people could not.

“They’ve actually managed to hoist the flag underwater. This is the
most special event that Marine Journalists has ever held,” Gentry
said, referring to one of the non-governmental organizations that
sponsored the event.

“It is the first-ever underwater flag-hoisting ceremony conducted by
disabled people in Indonesia,” he said.


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