Last night I was told a story of how someone’s wheelchair was stolen. My first reaction was one of horror. Oh my God, I would die! They can take everything. I don’t care. But, please! Not my wheelchair.
Stories like that always put things back into perspective for me. They make me grateful – again. They remind me of how I have grown to love my wheelchair. Hmmm I would never have thought that a wheelchair would ever become my most prized – and essential – possession.
Isn’t it amazing how circumstances can change perceptions and give the most fundamental items a whole new value – and meaning? To think that there was a time in my life when my most cherished possession was my engagement ring. A time when I flashed my fancy new diamond around smugly – making a statement. Yes! Somebody loves me. I’m getting married. Yay!
Oh my God, I had no idea what real life was all about.
Most people automatically see a wheelchair as a source of confinement. But, to me, it has become my source of freedom. It is my independence. Without my wheelchair, I would literally have no life at all.
Now, I wouldn’t swap my wheelchair for the biggest, most valuable diamond on the planet. Hmmm it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like another diamond again one day. (But, that is a story for another day.)
I cannot imagine that there are people in this world – and in my own country – who are paralysed, or immobile, for some reason, living without a wheelchair simply because they cannot afford to buy one.
The cost of living with a disability is totally underestimated. Assistive devices, like wheelchairs and specialized cushions, are extremely expensive to buy as well as to repair and maintain. Most people are under the (false) impression that once you have a wheelchair you are set for life. Imagine wearing one pair of shoes for the rest of your life? No. No. No. Even though my shoes could have a lifetime guarantee, I would die if I only had one pair of shoes. Hmmm I’m spoilt. I know.
Most people living with a disability did not choose that life. Some were born different and others were faced with life changing circumstances. No human is guaranteed a life without physical or emotional pain, trauma, tragedy, illness or disability – it can happen to anyone at any time. I am living proof of that. I wouldn’t wish this life on my worst enemy. Yes, I’ve made the best of it. Because I’ve had to. But, also I am one of the privileged ones. I have the love, care and physical, emotional and financial support of my family, friends and community. And for that, I am truly grateful.
What about the unlucky people without a support system or without an income?
This Friday 3 September 2010 is Casual Day which is a FUNdraising initiative for persons with disabilities living in South Africa. Please visit their website to see how you can get involved. This year’s theme is Dress for Laughs. Buy your sticker from any ABSA Bank, Game, Edgars, Jet, CNA, Boardmans or participating welfare organization. For only R10 you can make a difference and change a life.
I’ve learned that you don’t need to have a lot to give a little. If you gave up just one cup of coffee or a chocolate this week you could buy your Casual Day sticker.
Never ever underestimate the power of the difference you can make in someone else’s life.
Come on. Do it. Just because you can.