Five Fruitful Days

Peer Counseling Seminar and Workshop 2006 group photo
Peer Counseling Seminar and Workshop 2006

Every time I attend training on Independent Living or Peer Counseling, I am awed by the tenacity of the resource persons and participants. Many with less have achieved more especially the resource persons from the Human Care Association in Japan. They constantly visit countries in the Asia-Pacific region to spread the message of Independent Living. Despite battling great odds, they willingly and unconditionally share their knowledge. Their only reward is being able to rejoice in seeing the Independent Living Movement flourish in this region.

It is a humbling experience to be able to learn so much from them considering the fact that I have less physical impairment than most of them. This goes on to prove that the human mind is still the greatest asset we can ever possess. Nevertheless, many disabled persons are still being judged on their physical attributes rather than their capabilities. All things being equal, I am absolute that a disabled person can do a job as good as a non-disabled, if not better. Why the discrimination?

Peer Counseling Seminar and Workshop 2006 - Ms. Emiko Nakahara, Peter Tan and Ms. Hiroko Akiyama
L-R: Ms. Emiko Nakahara, me and Ms. Hiroko Akiyama.

The Peer Counseling Workshop conducted by Ms. Emiko Nakahara and Ms. Hiroko Akiyama was still an eye-opener even though I have attended the Training on Peer Counselors for People with Disabilities in Bangkok recently. It was interesting to see the gradual development of the participants from the first day to the last โ€“ from a disoriented look initially to one that showed enlightenment and empowerment at the conclusion.

On my part, I was glad to have been given the opportunity to play a minor role as a resource person. This has helped a lot in my preparation to conduct a seminar on Independent Living in Penang soon. This seminar is going to be organised and funded by a major Chinese daily. The targeted audience are severely disabled persons, their family and carers, and the public who are keen to learn about Independent Living for People with Disabilities.

Related entry:
Peer Counseling Seminar And Workshop 2006

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Slave to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. End-stage renal disease since 2017. Principal Facilitator at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. Former columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

2 thoughts on “Five Fruitful Days”

  1. Hi Peter,
    I’ve been following your blog for a couple of weeks now. It seems that most people with physical disabilities always tend to feel that people generally discriminate or look down on them. Therefore, I can’t blame them for being defensive most of the time. However, whilst it is important to acknowledge that physically-challenged people can perform their duties as well as other people, we gotta take note that there are others who use their disablilities as an excuse to obtain excessive help and sympathy. Your attempts at independent living are to be applauded. One thing I don’t quite agree with you is when you say that our minds are our greatest assets. Possessing too much knowledge can be detrimental. Also, thinking that “I’m handicapped and yet I can do so many things. Therefore, I must be better than the average individual, regardless of whether they’re disabled or not” is not the right attitude to have. The best asset we can have is to be humble and understanding. Being disabled is not the worst tribulation you can have in life. Everybody has their own troubles. While caring for individuals who are in the same predicament as you are, try to understand that people can be handicapped by circumstances, mental disorders, family feuds, cancer and the like. Just my two cents worth. = )

    Your first statement is true. I can attest to that from what I went through. Discrimination not only happens but a lot of time it is by family members. They include parents, siblings and relatives. Many times, it has been revealed to me that people tend to see the disability first and were judged based on that rather than what they could really perform.

    It is also true that some disabled persons have used their impairments to garner sympathy. However, the non-disabled have also used various other means to tug at the heartstrings of kind people to achieve malicious means. This is generally a human nature rather than isolated to disabled persons.

    One can never have too much knowledge. Learning is a lifelong process. There is always something new to learn everyday. How you came to the conclusion that disabled people who have achieved more than the non-disabled think that they are better. Perhaps you can enlighten me on that.

    On the other hand, imagine being totally paralysed and having to depend totally on others for all activities of daily living. The only thing left is the mind. If that is not their greatest asset, what else is?

    You are right to say that everybody has their own troubles. However, it is unfortunate that this world was not built to make life easier for disabled persons. From the moment we step out from our homes, we are being discriminated upon in the form of a non-barrier-free environment. Nobody will lose anything in a barrier-free society but this is not being done.

    I do not understand what you were implying by saying that โ€œWhile caring for individuals who are in the same predicament as you are, try to understand that people can be handicapped by circumstances, mental disorders, family feuds, cancer and the like.โ€ If you are talking about cancer, perhaps you have missed my entries relating to that. I am a staunch supporter of the work done by the Penang Hospice Society and I fully understand what it is like to be afflicted with cancer.

    On top of that, Independent Living for People with Disabilities is a cross-disability movement. We not only advocate for those with physical impairments but also for the blind, deaf, psychiatric disability, intellectual disability and a host of other impairments.

  2. Well said Peter. Both your entry and your reply. I’m behind you as far as standing up for the disabled community is concerned ๐Ÿ˜‰ ganbate, peter-san! Anyways, you have anymore other pics from the seminar AND workshop? I’d like to have a look. T’was a very good one indeed, but juz too bad i cudnt stay for the worshop. Keep up the good work yah? ;p

    Most of your photos are in Wuan’s camera. I will check with her.

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