Prodita Sabarini , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Sun, 10/19/2008 11:00 AM | People
Writer and women’s rights activist Titiana Adinda, 29, is a fighter: Partly paralyzed by meningoencephalitis in 2004 and laid off upon her return to work 18 months later, she refused to give in to her illness and continued the work she loved the most: Fighting violence against women.
On a sweltering hot day, Titiana dragged her right foot while leaning on a walking stick.
She posed for the The Jakarta Post photographer by a wall-length window at the law firm where she now works. “I’m supposed to be able to walk without this walking stick. But I’m still nervous walking without it. I’m afraid of falling,” Titiana said.
“I’m certain, however, that someday I will be able to walk again without using the stick.”
Titiana spoke as if making a promise to herself. Four years ago, after recovering from a 13-day coma caused by the bacterial infection that attacked her brain, she found herself unable to move the right side of
her body. Now, she can walk and use her right hand. Her speech ability, which deteriorated after the illness, has been restored. Her determination to get better is parallel with her determination in fighting violence against women.
While she was still seriously ill in 2006, she organized a self-defense class for women and wrote a book about it. In the same year, she volunteered as a fund-raiser at Cipto Mangunkusumo hospital crisis
center for women and children who are victims of abuse, which opened in 2000. She has also published a collection of true stories about violence against women.
“I feel that it is our responsibility to address the problem of violence against women and children. I’m not going to give up on that just because of my illness,” she said.
Currently she is busy looking for donations for the crisis center, which is on the verge of shutting down because of lack of funding for operational costs.
“Victims of abuse receive treatment for free at the crisis center, because usually they do not have access to finance,” she said.
The local administration funds the medicines and medical facilities needed for the treatment of victims of abuse but does not pay the salaries of the center’s staff. The crisis center has about 20 employees, including doctors, nurses and psychologists.
“We recently received a donation of around Rp 46 million from a UN organization which is enough to cover two months’ operational costs. After those 2 months, we will have to search for donations again,” she
“The operational cost of the center is high because it’s open 24 hours.”
Titiana said that from January to May this year the center treated 298 women and children victims of abuse.
“We need help to keep going,” she said.
Titiana said her passion to help victims of abuse started when she was at school.
“I used to listen to my friends talking about problems at home, where domestic violence occurs. Domestic violence is all around us and it needs to be addressed,” she said.
Before falling ill, Titiana worked at the National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan).
In her book Harapan Itu Masih Ada (There is Still Hope), she told the story of her illness and how she fought for her right to get severance pay from the commission, which fired her without reason.
“I did not want to write my story at first. It’s really personal and I didn’t want to parade my sadness. But a friend who worked in the publishing company persuaded me to do it,” she said.
A lot of families of patients of meningoencephalitis contacted her after the book came out.
“It’s nice to spread optimism among families and patients about this illness,” she said.
The doctors have declared that she has been cured of her illness.”I’m really lucky,” she said. “Most of the people that have the illness don’t make it.”
Titiana said she would continue her work as an activist, with several fund-raising projects in mind. She also has ideas for future books. Her next projects will be the memoir of a gay friend who was abused in
Aceh and a book on the lives of obese people.
Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment