SEMENYIH: When Hazmeer Harun started painting away at the Community-based Rehabilitation centre at the PDK Semenyih recently, it was a sight to behold – and the final product was mesmerising.
It is no wonder that the disabled artist with learning difficulties managed to sell his artwork to none other than the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, at the recent Ekspresi Negaraku event, for RM500.
“I love to paint,” the 27-year-old told NST online exclusively.
“It keeps me happy and even calms me down whenever I have my fits. My favourite colour is orange. I’m glad that the PM liked my painting and bought it,” he said.
Like Hazmeer, Arasi Pherarasi honed her skills in the culinary arts at the PDK Semenyih. Despite having learning difficulties, the spunky 29-year-old trained hard for six months to master the art of baking chocolate chip cookies.
“I love to cook. I used to cook at home,” said Arasi. “But this place is so much better than home because I can learn a lot more from my teachers and meet friends who are in the same situation,” she said.
Meanwhile, Khairul Amin, 20, found himself gravitating towards handicrafts.
“I just love decorating things and stitching things up. Having great teachers and friends around me here is a great motivation,” he said.
The gifted trio is among the 91 disabled students undergoing professional training at the PDK Semenyih, where success stories have bowled over visiting foreign delegates of the Asean Workshop on Community-Based Rehabilitation 2017.
Aimed at empowering the disabled community, the four-day conference, which included a field trip to the PDK Semenyih, officially ends today.
Sharing his tough experience in managing the centre alongside nine trainers – who are surviving on an RM800 monthly allowance from the Welfare Department – deputy chairman of PDK Semenyih, Ayub Zaidin, said the biggest challenge for his team is changing the mindset of parents towards their disabled children.
“A lot of parents are still ashamed about having disabled children.
“That’s why a lot of the disabled have yet to be registered with the Welfare Department. Some parents that I’ve met are ashamed to come forward and enroll their disabled kids in a public training centre like PDK Semenyih,” he said.
Based on his personal experience of raising a daughter with cerebral palsy, Ayub said: “The thing about disabled kids is that they can be trained to be more independent and develop specific skills that best suit them. But they need parental support, and training will have to start when the kids are still young,” he added.
Running on government and private funds, the PDK Semenyih conducts physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and special arts classes designed for the disabled, which can be therapeutic.
“My daughter’s experience tells me that these special kids respond better towards music. So I’ve set up a percussion group and a singing choir for them.
“They even perform at public events. Those who are good in baking and handicraft also sell their works to the public. This is how we empower the disabled kids,” said Ayub.
Those interested in engaging with the PDK Semenyih for various activities can call 03-8723 4007, or log on to their Facebook page: Pdk Semenyih.