Sri Lestari doesn’t let her inability to walk diminish her drive. For example, in May the social worker for United Cerebral Palsy/Wheels for Humanity drove more than 750 miles from Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, to Ubud, on the island of Bali, on a campaign to empower disabled people. Her life’s mission is to prove that being disabled still means freedom, and it starts with the very thing that first injured her: a motorcycle.
When she was 23, a motorcycle accident left her paralyzed from the chest down. She fell into a deep depression and spent the next 10 years in her home in Klaten, in Central Java, embroidering and rarely going outside.
Like many others living with disabilities in Indonesia â€“ a country that provides little aid to those with physical or mental challenges â€“ life was a struggle. Her plans for the future had taken a huge blow when she lost her independence.
“Before I got a motorcycle, I just thought ‘How can I work?’ ” Ms. Sri says. “I [was] so worried about that. It was making me stressed because I was jobless. I was really dependent on my parents, so I was so worried about a job.”
It all changed when she learned about a program that modifies motorcycles by adding a wheelchair platform and ramp, additional wheels, relocated handlebars, and a hand-controlled stick shift and brakes.
For Sri, this was the answer. No longer would her sister have to pick her up, strap her feet to the back of a motorcycle, and drive her to the school for blind children in her village where, after she had built up enough confidence, she had started volunteering to help print books in Braille.