【WHY NOT BOLD】Solo Road Adventures: Rabi Yim, The Fearless Wheelchair Explorer

Let’s talk about Bold. 

How would you define the word “Bold”? Fearless, confident and brave, striking, daring, audacious, beyond the usual boundaries, in bold.

“Bold” is a multifaceted word, just as everyone’s interpretation of “Bold” differs.

BBOLD, BE BOLD — Instead of us telling you how to Be Bold, let’s leave it to you to define.BBOLD has invited six women from diverse backgrounds to share their thoughts on Bold, starting from their own experiences.

The next one is Rabi Yim。

Rabi Yim

Why blindly believe what others say?
Does it always have to be something negative?
Without experiencing it for yourself?

Rabi’s tale is both a beacon of inspiration and a narrative seemingly filled with improbabilities.

It was Valentine’s Day in 1998 when they first met as a couple. On the way home, they encountered a traffic accident that changed their lives forever. A few short lines describing Rabi’s story may omit the raw emotions, but the anguish is palpable.

She contends that being alone brings the greatest solace. At the tender age of nineteen, she embarked on a solitary journey to France to pursue a design education, an expedition spanning six years. Even post-injury, her yearning persisted, the desire to live independently, to revel in her own space.

Going to the restroom, donning her attire, preparing her meals, all solitary endeavours. While well-wishers offered their support, scepticism lingered in the background. Then came her declaration , she aspired to learn to drive. Her mother’s immediate response? “You had an accident all by yourself, and you want to drive?” Yet, her spirit remained unyielding, craving a life unshackled by conventions. Fearless and with a burgeoning love for the open road, she revelled in driving. When behind the wheel, there was no telling she was a person with disabilities, she blended seamlessly with fellow travellers.

How long did it take to transfer her body from the wheelchair into the car, then disassemble the wheelchair and stow it away? After years of relentless practice, the answer was a swift eight minutes. In the beginning, however, it consumed nearly half an hour of her determination. Those early days witnessed her solo training sessions in the parking lot, the resonating “clinks” piquing the interest of a vigilant security guard. “Need some assistance? You seem to be struggling,” he kindly offered. “No need, I wish to attempt it myself, to practise,” she responded. Upon finally achieving mastery, she embarked on a nocturnal odyssey across Hong Kong, reluctant to return home. While a wheelchair imposed certain limitations, her car unlocked boundless possibilities. The thrill and autonomy were like a gateway to a new chapter of her life. Her previous belief, that individuals with disabilities should lead a sedentary life, yielding to the status quo, was shattered. Instead, she discovered a newfound restlessness, an insatiable curiosity, journeying to diverse locales, even making a solo pilgrimage to Paris to visit friends.

She was, and still is, a designer. Her injury, rather than acting as a deterrent, unveiled a plethora of new roles – an advocate for inclusive education, a radio personality, a thespian…

Rabi epitomises two contrasting personalities – one portraying her as docile, cooperative, and accommodating in group settings, and the other projecting an individual who disregards external judgement, exhibits a streak of rebellion, and refuses to accept defeat. Perhaps it was this duality that empowered her to endure the gruelling rehabilitation process. Every moment confined to that hospital bed, she resolved to escape as swiftly as possible.

“Perhaps it’s precisely due to this unique identity and my extraordinary journey that I can create something truly exceptional.” Rather than relinquishing her dreams, she embraced an alternative path to realisation. This seasoned female driver is steering towards the horizon with unfettered determination.

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