Teen: ‘If you love life, do not drink and drive’
By AZARD ALI Monday, September 9 2013
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ACCIDENT VICTIM: Shiva Manocha, 30, confined to a wheelchair, speaks to former Transport Minister Chandresh Sharma (At Shiva's left) at Saturday's lau...
SHIVA MANOCHA is someone to behold.
Left crippled and confined to a wheelchair, the 30-year-old poured out his heart to young men and women on Saturday night, “If you love life, do not drink and drive.”
Ainocha, son of San Fernando businessman Dip Manocha, addressed the Rapid Fire Foundation’s (RFF’s) dinner function, after former Transport Minister Chandresh Sharma, bemoaned road deaths due to drunk driving. Sharma, shifted to the Tourism Ministry, appealed for mandirs, masjids and Parent Teachers’ Associations, to help youths battle drinking alcohol in night clubs and driving.
But it was Manocha, invited as an inspirational guest speaker, who broke the hearts of the scores of young men and women who turned out to the Rapid Fire Foundation’s launch of its ‘Road Safety’ campaign. The campaign features Manocha telling the story of his drunk driving and the aftermath which left him crippled.
RFF’s president attorney Kevin Ratiram, introduced Manocha, who, sitting on a wheelchair with his father, Dip next to him at Canton Palace Restaurant, said: “My message to all of you is, if you love life, don’t drink and drive. I am in this wheelchair because of the careless decision I made. Please respect yourself and others. Do not ruin you and your family life by a stupid decision for a moment of pleasure.”
Those words, featuring Manocha seated in his wheelchair, are the audio clip in the minute-long advertisement against the background of graphic photos. Ratiram said the advertisment would be featured as a public service announcement, on television and in cinemas.
Manocha said he was 20-years-old when he went partying at a night club in San Fernando. He had many ‘drinks’ and on his way home, crashed his car on the overpass at Cross Crossing. Manocha suffered brain damage and for seven months had been in a comatose state. He’s permanently paralysed. His jaw is broken and he cannot walk.
Ratiram said that MovieTowne, Port-of-Spain, would be showing the Manocha advertisement over 50 times daily, before the start of each movie, at no cost. He pointed out that orthodox methods of the war against drunk driving, such as the use of the slogan, “Don’t drink and drive”, had lost their impact on the population, and was having little effect. “The time has come for us to use unorthodox methods to fight this battle, to jolt people into the reality that any one of us could be next. This ad, with an actual victim in a wheelchair, hopefully will do that.”
Manocha’s father, Dip, fought back tears as he spoke of how his son’s accident had impacted on his family. As he spoke, Shiva said, “Daddy, don’t cry”, but the son’s words caused many in the audience to sob.