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Disabled vet makes good on promise to help others

Be the change you wish to see
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Dr Kriyaan Singh, centre, smiles as he tackles one of the muddy obstacles in the Hardcore event. PHOTO COURTESY KRIYAAN SINGH

Ten years ago, Dr Kriyaan Singh made a promise to help those most in need. It’s a promise he has continued to keep.

Singh, a former Independent senator, was in the headlines recently when he offered to pay the $2,500 fine for Michaeline Wall, a 26-year-old disabled, unemployed woman, convicted of marijuana possession.

Since then, the 33-year-old veterinarian has become Wall’s mentor. He’s already planning to enroll her in literacy classes with Alta to ensure she becomes self-sufficient. Wall will also undergo therapy, courtesy Singh’s fiancée, Sophie Brown, a mental health occupational therapist. 

As a result of all the media exposure, Singh, who runs the La Romain Veterinary Clinic, said scores of well-wishers from as far as the US and the UK, have contacted him to offer assistance to Wall so she can fulfill her dream of becoming a certified electrician. However, the Penal resident insists, he’s no hero. “Too often we condemn people because of where they’re from. No one looked at this girl and asked, ‘can she read or write? What can I do to help her?’,” he said. 

“There are people who think I shouldn’t have helped, but I chose to help somebody who needed it. I didn’t do this for fame. I’ve consistently been helping people and animals over the years and it’s just about doing it, no matter who sees,” Singh said in a recent interview with the T&T Guardian.
The Naparima College old boy may exude confidence and strength but he has had to overcome considerable challenges.

In 2006, he was hit by a truck driven by an under-aged drunk motorist. Singh managed to drag himself out of the wreckage but the accident caused severe damage to his cervical spine, resulting in paralysis from his chest down. Singh spent five months fighting for his life at hospital. 
He has since ignored pleas from family and friends to take legal action against the teenager. 

“I can’t explain how it feels to become paralysed, but to this day I don’t have any vengeful feelings towards him,” Singh said. “Suing him wouldn’t make me walk again. Nothing will change. “Knowing what it’s like to live in a society that doesn’t cater for the disabled has taught me a lot, so I always try to help people in similar situations. I think that’s my purpose.”

Another disabled young man, Virendra Jokhan can testify to this. In 2006, he was also involved in an accident which left him paralysed at just 22. Today, he credits Singh for helping him to live a more fulfilling life. “Last year, my brother saw a post on Kriyaan’s Facebook page where he documented his progress using water therapy. He messaged him and told him that I was in a similar situation. Kriyaan didn’t hesitate to help. 

“He did the therapy with me in his own pool and showed me how to do things for myself like putting on my own t-shirts and getting from my wheelchair to my bed—basically how to continue life, minus my legs. These were things I struggled with before and had to depend on family to do for me,” Jokhan said.

“In just two weeks, I made considerable improvement. Kriyaan was the driving force in showing me how to live again. He never took money from me. I never thought I could learn to do things on my own again. I can’t describe how I felt.”

Veterinary surgeon, Al Abdool, who’s known Singh for over 15 years, shares similar sentiments. He said even as a student, Kriyaan exhibited leadership qualities and a willingness to help others.

“He had a drive I had never seen in any student. I was abroad when he got into the accident; otherwise, I would have been at his bedside. He’s been through a lot physically, emotionally and mentally, yet every time I spoke to him he was always positive. I remember him telling me he’s gonna be back on his feet again. It didn’t work out physically, but it did in every other aspect.”

Today, Singh continues on his journey to live life to the fullest and refuses to allow his disability to have the last say. A sport enthusiast, Singh does all the activities he did before the accident and has even taken part in the gruelling Hardcore obstacle course challenge several times. 

“I’ve known Kriyaan since he could walk and he’s never been one to give up,” said Kerry Grant, owner of the Southern Warriors of Mixed Martial Arts, Marabella.

Grant was Singh’s Hardcore trainer and said, “he trained for Hardcore probably harder than most people. He went to the gym five days a week and did mixed martial arts training. “We saw people with legs who couldn’t complete the course but Kriyaan did. That speaks volumes about who he is.”

These days, Singh is keeping busy with his veterinary practice and planning his wedding, carded for 2017.

“Things happen but life goes on,” he said. “I don’t ever feel sorry for myself. We all need to be the change we wish to see.”


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