#IntiFMidol: Mr. Antony Leopold

Evanna Phoon


#IntiFMIdol is a project initiated by FounderMethod to promote 15 physically challenged entrepreneurs in Malaysia & is 100% a Malaysian Made Production by 70 Gen Ys from Inti Diploma of Mass Communication


As a proud Malaysian, I hope you can make full use of #IntiFMIdol Stories as your motivational communication to your sales force, staffs, colleagues, friends & loved ones. Thank You in Advance ....


Evanna Phoon, www.FounderMethod.com

Click on Above to share #IntiFMIdol Story of  Mr Antony Leopold

 

Here is the story to #IntiFMIdol Mr Antony Leopold - Beyond Travel

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Special Service for "Disabled Travel"

A 25 year wait for a dream has come true for a man whose love for travel motivated him to achieve his life goal. Everyone has a dream, a life goal, something that needs to be achieved. No matter who we are, where we come from, we are all chasing our dreams. Although chasing is not really his thing, 62 year old Antony Leopold has achieved his lifelong goal of opening his very own travel agency for the disabled. This may seem like your average success story, but Antony’s tale is one of a kind.

Little did you know, Antony himself has been disabled ever since he was 2 years old. We interview him as he hobbles on his crutches, giving us a tour of his office. Antony guides us around with a smile that never seems to fade. We see awards hanging by the walls, pictures of various travel destinations covering the entire room. But at the corner of his office lays an unused wheelchair, seemingly untouched for a long time. “I don’t need the wheelchair,” says Antony.

He has been disabled since young; Antony is comfortable using only his crutches for mobility. “I was not vaccinated when I was young, hence the reason I have this disability,” he mentioned. Antony suffers from poliomyelitis, a disease that causes paralysis in the limbs, muscles and nerves. When asked about how his life goal came about, he said “I love to travel, the chance to meet people of various cultures and backgrounds. But I wanted to make a difference to travelling, for people like myself.”

MR.Antony and his wife

According to the United Nations report in 2008, 10% of the world’s population has some form of disability. Out of these 25%, the rest are physically disabled. It is fairly hard for disabled people to travel, not to mention finding a travel agency that actually caters for the disabled, especially in Malaysia. “Most of my clients didn’t even know that such a travel agency exists in Malaysia,” said Antony while he slowly takes his seat in his office. For Antony, the idea to create a travel agency for the disabled has been a long time coming.

“I’ve been a business partner for 2 companies in the span of 25 years, I’ve pitched about creating this form of travel agency but none of them made an effort to make it a reality.” Some people say that if you want something done, you have to do it yourself. That’s exactly what Antony did. “I realized that none of the companies that I was in bought in to the idea, so I started my own travel agency,” mentioned Antony.

Antony founded Ace Altair Travel Agency back in 2004, his business was sustained using common travel packages for the normal abled person. “No one builds a company on their own, you always need someone to help you,” said Antony regarding the birth of his company. Antony stated that one’s goals and dreams cannot come to fruition if there is no desire or determination. “If you think you can, you can” expressed Antony. “I’ve been inspired by many others like myself and I do my best for them and this company.”

Ace Altair Travel Agency provides a dedicated travel package called Travel Assist that specifically caters for the disabled, senior citizens and the elderly. Travel Assist includes unique transportation for the disabled such as special wheel chair lifts, arrangement of suitable accommodation, identifying places of attractions and restaurants that are accessible, providing trained personnel to assist special needs travellers and many more. “We cater to the disabled, senior citizens and the elderly. We have a wide variety of tourist attractions and equipment for people with specific disabilities.” said Antony.

talking about how he build up his travel agency

The travel agency has portable ramps for the wheel chair-bound, specially designed beds for the handicapped, vans equipped with wheelchair lifts and even coaches that can accommodate 30 passengers, including 6 wheel chair-bound people. Travel Assist provides tours locally and internationally, local attractions such as the Twin Towers, Historical Malacca, The National Monument, The Butterfly Park, The National Museum and many more. International tours include East Africa, specifically Tanzania.

Places incredibly accessible for the disabled in Tanzania include the Tarangire National Park, Lake Manyara National Park and the highlight of it all, The Ngorongoro Crater rim. Ace Altair Travel Agency is a huge part of Antony and his family’s life. “It’s sort of a family business, because most of my family members are working with me” said Antony. His loving wife Vimala Devi, his sister and son are all a part of the unique travel agency. “My wife wasn’t in the travel line 10 years back, but she has supported me for as long as I can remember.” mentioned Antony.

Antony also mentioned that their love was not from an arranged marriage, they fell in love by their own choice. “She (Vimala) has supported me through the years, and has taken a big liking to this field.” The couple’s relationship blossoms each day, even in the office. Their desk is just metres away from one another. Antony calls for Vimala, asking her to look for pictures from their wedding to show us. We glance through dozens of pictures of their family, the crutches play no part in our emotions because Antony looks extremely normal and happy even when he’s on them. But just because someone is disabled, it doesn’t mean he’s or she’s unhappy.

Often times we see a disabled person walking on the street and think to ourselves, should we help? Will they feel offended if we offered to assist them? Will they feel grateful? The biggest question of them all is, are they sensitive? “Everyone is people, abled or disabled. It’s just a matter of accepting who you are” he expressed. Antony also said that there are some who are sensitive and some who are not so sensitive like himself, his smile still ever present. Sometimes it’s perfectly fine to assist the disabled, but certain people take things in a different light.

It’s a matter of personal choice, because some disabled people are okay with being assisted while some aren’t. “I occasionally feel like I don’t want to be a burden to others, so I do things on my own and show them that I’m independent.” stated Antony. To his experience, he expressed that there’s not much difference between the abled bodied and the disabled. Antony was the only disabled person in school when he was younger, and he felt as if he was normal.

A quote from Mr Antony

“I’m just being normal, I am what I am and I’m happy this way.” said Antony. When asked about how difficult life has been for him, Antony had this to say “To me, disabilities are God-given while difficulties are man-made. Disabilities are mostly irreversible, but difficulties can be fixed.” “We cannot blame God for the disabilities he has given us, it is up to us to attain and achieve what we want.” expressed the lion hearted 60 year-old.

Even though there are more disabled people in Malaysia than the official disabled persons’ registry suggests, not much work has been done by the government to cater for the disabled. Not many public toilets are disabled friendly, there are insufficient parking slots allocated for the disabled, and the walkway braille system is tampered with by construction. But worst of all, our country’s poor effort to assist the disabled lies on the hands of society. Reflect, recall and try to remember the countless of times a disabled parking spot has been abused by the abled person.

Think about the struggles that disabled people face when using public transportation, when train seats specially allocated for the disabled are misused by the normal and healthy. Ponder upon the difficulty for a blind person to walk on the bustling streets of Kuala Lumpur when their walkway braille system is blocked by construction workers who inconsiderately close the walkway. At times like these, the public has failed tremendously in assisting the disabled. This issue stems from the mentality of a minority of selfish and inconsiderate group of people, who make the disabled’s life much harder than it already is.

“It all comes down to the mentality of people, some are just inconsiderate while some are just careless” stated Antony. He gave an example of when his office building’s disabled parking spot was inadvertently taken by an abled person. “Some people just forget, because they didn’t think that a disabled person would actually come here. But little did they know, I work here.” expressed Antony. Antony also called for the government to create or improve laws for the safety and sake of the disabled, stating that “The policy is there, but it is not enforced.” He also compared the disabled friendly parking lot at IKEA to other places in Malaysia and mentioned that IKEA’s disabled parking spot policy has worked wonders.

“IKEA is doing a great job with their disabled parking spot policy, they take necessary action against those who abuse the parking spot by giving them a hefty fine, which eventually goes to charity.” said Antony. Antony urges the government to create better and more efficient policies that aid the disabled, stating that applying a hefty penalty for misuse and abuse of disabled friendly facilities should do the trick in creating a better environment for people like him. Antony’s loving wife Vimala enters the room, offering snacks. She joins in on our conversation and starts telling us about her recent travel experience.  Just like her husband, Vimala enjoys traveling and has just returned from her trip to Japan. She says that Japan is an amazing country that is disabled friendly from the airport, the city and even to the markets. She was shocked to find a country that cares so much for its disabled citizens and travellers alike. “When you look at Japan, and compare it to our country, we are hundreds of miles behind” said Vimala. “Everywhere you turn, you can easily find a disabled friendly facility or area.” she mentioned. We are indeed miles and miles behind, it seems that our country is just not ready to call ourselves a disabled friendly tourist destination.

More effort should be put by the government to improve this issue. But the true cure however lies within ourselves, we can only hope that society can truly put themselves in the shoes of a disabled person and feel their everyday struggle. Only then, will they understand what it really means to be handicapped. For Antony and his family, their love for travelling burns brighter each day. Ace Altair Travel Agency blossoms with every satisfied client, and everything seems perfectly normal for a man who’s been disabled since young. We left the office, forgetting the fact that he was disabled, realizing that Antony really was THAT normal.

Business Information of #IntiFMIdol - Mr Antony Leopold
Operation Hours of 9 am to 5 pm
Address: B-3-A9, Level 6, Block B, Menara Uncung Emas (UE3) , 85, Jalan Loke Yew, 52200 Kuala Lumper

Email: altair@acealtairtravels.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AceAltairTravels
Website: www.acealtairtravels.com and www.disabledtravelinmalaysia.weebly.com

Nature of business: Travel

 

Video Production & Article Write Up is by Group #14 Gen Y 

group member: 1. Hui Chun Chuan 2. Tang Sze Kay 3. Dominic Teng Bangxheng 4.Eng Jinn Guang 5.Johnathan Weng Howe "

 

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