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What is it like to be a deaf Grab rider in Malaysia?

When Yoega Raj Elangkovan came into the office (this was shot way before the second MCO—with precautions and safe social distancing), he was half soaked from the rain. He told us (through translator Ms. Goh Soo Leng) that he’d been busy working before the interview session, and asked me for a place to dry up—to which I promptly showed him the bathroom.

After he was ready, we set up and interviewed him. We set a microphone up for both Yoega and Ms. Goh so we could hear the translations, as well as the sounds of Yoega answering my questions.

Yoega is a deaf delivery-partner who has worked with Grab since June 2018. He talked to us earnestly about how he navigates his day as a Grab rider, and about being the breadwinner for his family.

I felt a deep respect for Yoega, for how dedicated to his work he is and the fact that he had such an air of calm around him that I can’t describe. It could be due to the fact that he has to take his time and sign the words that he wants to say, so every word had to matter—and we hung onto every one of them.

However, it could also be the way he sees things. In the interview, he spoke of how things like obstructions and floods don’t bother him as much when he’s out delivering food to his customers. He says that he will always find a way.

According to a Grab representative, there are currently around 650 Persons with Disabilities (PWD) working with Grab. This includes drivers, delivery partners and even a few merchants (with various forms of disabilities).

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Special thanks to Grab for the opportunity.

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Dzamira Dzafri