“All PWDs must step up and be bold to be seen and recognised by society.”
Rachel Siew is not your average person with disabilities (PWD). She motivates others to better themselves despite their disabilities and she also wants to create change in society.
“I would like to encourage all PWDs to step up and be bold to be seen and recognised by society. Don’t shy away due to your disability, do you know that our stories have the power to reshape communities and engender empathy across differences?
“By sharing our story, we can change the unfair perception, values, and behaviours of others,” she told GoodNews.
She encourages employers to consider hiring PWDs.
Rachel had her share of difficulties when she tried to search for a job initially.
“When I graduated and came back to Malaysia, I faced another barrier which was to find suitable employment. When I found a vacancy suitable, I would usually contact them to find out if they hired PWDs and if they had a suitable workspace for me. I would ask questions like if they had an elevator at their office or were there stairs before entering the lobby?
“These questions may seem redundant to most jobseekers but for me and many PWD jobseekers out there it is vital to know that our future workplace would be disabled-friendly.
“If they were open to hiring PWDs, I would forward my resume to them. Sad to say, most of the companies either do not reply or reply with an abrupt ‘vacancy filled’ although still post that same vacancy on their website after that,” she said.
Now Rachel is a community advocate focusing on the rare disease community at Make It Right Movement (MIRM).
MIRM was founded in 2015 and is now the official community service initiative of the BAC Education Group. It aims to create a positive impact on society, in line with its mission to enrich communities and transform lives.
“I am tasked to handle administrative matters, communicating with MIRM Partners, logistics, Special Jobs (a job portal catered for individuals with special needs) and many other ad hoc projects.
“It is a privilege to be employed full time at Brickfields Education Group as I am exposed to the NGO communities and can support them in their effort to bring a positive change,” she said adding that it made her feel useful that at just 92.5cm tall, she too can contribute back to the society.
Rachel also said she felt grateful towards MIRM for their constant support and understanding in allowing her to take every Wednesdays off to undergo her vital medical treatment.
“It is my hope that other employers will emulate Brickfields Education Group in such a remarkable initiative which is to employ another based on their capabilities and not their disabilities.
“If you are an employer who is keen to hire PWDs, you are welcome to post suitable job vacancies on our SpecialJobs portal and if you are a PWD jobseeker, upload your resume to get your next job opportunity.
“Let us work together towards a diverse and inclusive workforce!”
Currently, Rachel is working on curating the very first Annual Status Report on Rights of Individuals with Rare Disease in Malaysia. It will be a report of all the common rare diseases found in Malaysia and how we can fight for our rights in our everyday lives.
Besides that she is also an active member and Treasurer for the Malaysia Lysosomal Diseases Association (MLDA) and the 2nd Vice President of Malaysia Disability Youth Council.
Rachel was born with a rare degenerative genetic condition called Morquio Syndrome which essentially means she was born lacking an enzyme that break down sugar chains naturally produced in the body thus affecting her bones, spine and internal organs
“It’s pretty ironic when you consider enzyme can make such a huge difference in one’s life?
“Generally, there is no cure for any genetic condition but preventative surgical measures can be taken depending on the severity of the condition. I have undergone numerous major operations ever since I could talk.”
MIRM, the organisation Rachel is part of, collaborates with over 250 national and global partners – governmental and non-government organisations and social enterprises – in championing worthy causes, and supporting more than 400 charities and community development projects annually.