Standing Whilst Seated

Written by Erica Lim, Be Movement issue 5 – HONG KONG, published April 2015
Photography by David Lalanne

Talented, beautiful and young, at age 25 Rabi Yim Chor Pik’s life took a devastating turn two years after returning to Hong Kong from studying Visual Communication in Paris. “Before … I had so many plans for my career … earn more money and live in a bigger house. Very stereotypical mind. I just think of myself or family, but do not really think of society.” It all changed when Rabi’s friend who was driving her fell asleep at the wheel. The resulting accident may have left Rabi a quadriplegic, but fortunately she quickly regained the use of her upper limbs.

“It was unexpected. After the accident, I [initially] had to rely on somebody else for everything. I needed to ask and wait for somebody. I wanted to restart my life and I [saw] some good examples like in handicapped sports. I saw people who train[ed] very well in a wheelchair and [I imagined that] I could be independent [using] wheelchairs.” An active champion for female and disability rights, Rabi serves as a member of the Women’s Commission in Hong Kong, as well as a Vice Chairperson of the Direction Association for the Handicapped.

“Compared to other countries like Australia, you can see the difference. Hong Kong is not very barrier-free. There are many steps and it is very crowded. I thought I was the only voice in the society and I felt very alone. Then I found this organisation and thought we could group together and voice something to the government and change the policy [towards people with disabilities].”

As of April 2014 she became the founder of a social enterprise for people with disabilities, buoyed by funding from DBS.

The Direction Association helps people with disabilities acquire support, as well as seek accommodation in land-scarce Hong Kong. Bucking the stigma of beggars looking for handouts, the Association also enables its beneficiaries to engage in meaningful employment. This includes working in the social enterprise arm of the charity, where they can join RPM Workstation which handles design-related matters like coding and illustration. The company was established following Rabi’s own challenges striving to attain employment which suited both her physical and intellectual needs.

Beneficiaries could also help train corporate clients and schools in improving what Rabi calls “AQ”, or their “Adversity Quotient”. With more individuals seeking counselling for stress-related problems, this is a much-needed skill set that can be taught by anybody, disabilities notwithstanding.

DBS backed the project, sensing a need ignored or not addressed in Hong Kong society, but apart from monetary assistance the corporation also provided training and exposure to the company with promotions at various fairs at the Hong Kong Convention Centre. The corporate backing boosted the outreach of the cause in a country where disability awareness is still lagging far behind.

Rabi hopes to expand her cause, or at least inspire more people, newly disabled or not.

“I would also encourage them that although they think it’s a ‘loss of life’, I can tell them I’m an example. Even if you’re in your own wheelchair, you still have your life. You still live the same way. You can still have your career. You can still live more happily. Yeah, [it’s] only [a] different style [of] life.” Fifteen years after her accident, Rabi’s joyful demeanour is living proof of her belief.

standing whilst seated 1






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