“People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world….”
I smile as I hum along to Barbra Streisand’s well known voice. Yes, I am one of the lucky ones. I definitely need people. I need people to love and to be loved by, to laugh with, to chat to, to be around. I need people to have different opinions and thereby broaden my outlook and horizons. Looking at the lives of people, one is often inspired to improve the way in which one lives one’s own life.
Nisha is one of those “people”.
Nisha has Cerebral Palsy. This is a neurological condition that affects movement and co-ordination. It is caused in the parts of the brain responsible for controlling muscles. The condition can occur if the brain develops abnormally or is damaged before, during or shortly after birth. The main symptoms are: muscle stiffness or floppiness, muscle weakness, random and uncontrolled body movements, balance and co-ordination problems. Intelligence is not affected.
Nisha has acute CP so is wheelchair bound. She remembers as a child watching other children playing tag and hopscotch and so wanting to join in. Do you remember the game of elastic where two people stood with a long piece of elastic around their bodies while the third person hopped in, out and around the elastic? She was able to participate in that game because they could put the elastic around her chair. But that was all she was able to do.
For months after my accident, I remember being stuck in a wheelchair. I hated it. As a result I was not a very pleasant person to be around. But my wheelchair days fortunately proved temporary. Unlike Nisha.
“Why?”, she asked her Lord, “why?” She stared helplessly up at the night sky. “Do you love me? Do you hate me? Do you even know I exist, Lord? Why do I have to go through all of this? Why me, Father, why me?”
A gentle voice replied: “Why not you?”
That floored her for a moment. “Well…do You mean You want me like this? Why? What good am I like this?”
Nisha claims she heard a voice say: “I want you to show everyone that anybody can make a difference and change the world.” A gentle laugh. “Even you in a wheelchair!”
She remembers thinking: I can’t even go the bathroom by myself! How on earth does He expect me to make a change in the world? Lying looking up at the millions of stars gazing down on her, Nisha realised that to change your reality, you have to shift your perception. Instead of thinking of herself as being wheelchair bound, she must run and leap and dance in other ways. She had a strong mind and…..the Internet at her fingertips. And so, Nisha began to jeté, pirouette and twirl her way forward!
On March 5th 2010, Nisha began her Clean Water for All Campaign. The objectives of the campaign were to raise $6500 for The Water Project. This is an organisation that aims to provide clean water to drought ridden communities all over the world. She wrote blogs drawing attention to this water deficit in African countries and she managed to raise $7862. This was enough money to build a hand pumped well in Kenya! I can just imagine Nisha’s reaction at having finally raised sufficient funds to afford that well. “I proved that anybody can make a difference and change the world – even me: a nineteen-year-old girl in a wheelchair!”
She began to see that this young woman in her wheelchair was indeed making a difference in the world.
“Sometimes life gives you lemons,” says Nisha. “I realised that it’s up to you what you do with them. I am making lemonade out of my lemons. I blog about my experiences at Life and Living With Cerebral Palsy and I fundraise for worthy causes. My current campaign is Educate Generations, on behalf of the Malala Fund.
In 2009, Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl, began writing a blog on BBC Urdu about life in the Swat Valley as the Taliban gained control, at times banning girls from attending school. Malala began to appear in both Pakistani and international media advocating education for all, irrespective of gender. In October 2012, gunmen boarded Malala’s school bus and shot her in the face, a bullet passed through her head and into her shoulder. Remarkably, Malala survived the shooting. At a very young age, she has become a worldwide symbol of courage and hope. Her shooting sparked a wave of solidarity across Pakistan, not to mention globally, for the right to education, freedom from terror and female emancipation. She was awarded The Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.
Nisha read her book I am Malala and it moved her deeply. Like Malala she believes that education is vital to girls and boys alike. By not having an education, women are needlessly diminished. “I know that education empowers women in every aspect. Women who are not fortunate enough to have this learning have little or no power in their lives.”
Nisha’s goal is to raise $2,500 or more for the Malala Fund. She desperately wants help these hapless girls receive an education. At the moment she has raised $1860
“People have been amazing with their generosity and I am so grateful. But they mustn’t stop! People should continue to donate to my campaign. It will be further proof that people of differing abilities can change the world!”
People, people who need people are the luckiest people in the world…..I need people like Nisha in my life. There is always going to be someone better or worse off than you. That is not the point. What stands out in Nisha’s life is that she is giving the best she has, in the way best for her to give. As she says: “I believe it is my duty as a human being to leave the world a little better than it was when I got here.”
And she is changing the world, in her own way.
I am humbled.
If you wish to donate to Nisha’s Educate Generations Fundraising Project