“Malaysia: Truly Asia” is something us Asia students have been hearing a lot of lately. This government endorsed catch phrase refers to the diversity of Malaysia.
Kuala Lumpur is a city rich with culture and people groups. The campaign “1 Malaysia” encourages these groups to live in harmony and unity throughout the city. One group that I find to be particularly beautiful in the way they care for each other is the blind community.
Much of this community is centralized in Brickfields, now known as Little India. One might miss out on this group if they don’t spend much time in Brickfields. Home to a school for the blind, one can expect to see people wandering the area with walking sticks, and some with friends who lovingly guide them. Crossing the street in KL can be dangerous even for those with perfect vision. Graded sidewalks act as a guide for the blind, letting them know where there are steps up and down, and where there are crosswalks. Local traffic also seems to keep watchful of them. Though these are simple actions to ensure their safety, they speak loudly to me.
The Brickfields area provides employment for the blind as well, with dozens of blind massage. Employment extends to the deaf community as well, with a deaf-mute laundrette just near the local YMCA. These communities are made up of Indians, Chinese, Malays, and I even noticed albinos on a couple of occasions.
parlours A moment that particularly touched me in regard to these communities occurred when I did a favour for a staff member at the YMCA. When he thanked me verbally – most beautifully, I might add – he also said it in sign language. I can only assume that because of the deaf community in the area, he learned at least some sign language to communicate with them. The fact that it was such a natural reaction for him to sign to me shows that this is a common occurrence.
This kind of stewardship and caring for those with ‘disabilities’ is a beautiful example for all of us. These intentional actions keep groups from feeling marginalized or neglected. While no culture is perfect, each does something right. I believe the care for the blind and deaf in Brickfields to be a grand example of something done right.