I'd like to introduce you all to an inspiring 18 year old, young Muslim woman who I had the privilege to meet a few weeks ago. She is a brand new member of the Diamonds of Islam Youth Group, she is funny, articulate, intelligent and has an amazing story to tell about her journey through life thus far as a person who was born with Cerebral Palsy.
She gave the speech below at our last youth group session on 'Understanding Disabilities' and gave us the insight as to what her life has been like throughout her childhood and youth. She shares the struggles she has endured and she reminds us that she just wants to be treated like everyone else. Like the rest of us, she should be defined by her talents and strengths and not by her disability.
I love her already. You will too.
Hold my hand and walk with me. We must break the back of social inequity; we must empower every individual with a disability. To live with dignity in an inclusive society.
(Quoted by William E. Lightbourne)
My name is Alia and today I like to share with you my story or as I like to call it my “unforgettable journey. Before I begin I thought I share with you a bit about myself. I’m known for my wicked sense of humour, I’m not sure about that though .My hobbies are reading novels mostly fiction but I’m not bothered. I love watching movies and anything which has humour comedians i.e.; Russel Peters! I was born in the year of 1995 with a disability called “Cerebral Palsy “. Cerebral palsy is a term which encompasses a set of neurological conditions that causes physical disability in human development - that affects the brain and nervous system. Cerebral palsy is divided into many sub categories and in my case its “Spastic diplegia “which is muscle tightness.
Being a teenager is one thing in this so called “modern society “but having a disability on top of that is totally another thing. Growing up I had my ups and downs. School was my least favourite place. I have had my fair share; I’ve cried, I’ve laughed. I fell, I got back up and most of all I’ve learnt that there’s life beyond Cerebral Palsy.
For me and many alike with cerebral palsy it’s a challenge but it’s also a gift. It’s challenging because I have to face really nasty people and I’m an easy target so they say . We aren’t disadvantaged Allah has just chosen us to be to be among those who he tested. Remember only hard tasks are giving to the strongest warriors.
Too often, even in our own day, children with special needs have been set apart and excluded. Too often, state and federal laws add to their challenges, instead of removing barriers and opening new paths of opportunity. Too often, they are made to feel that there is no place for them in the life of our country, that they don't count or have nothing to contribute. This attitude is a grave disservice to these beautiful children, to their families, and to our country.
For some students, primary school is usually a time to grow, learn and make mistakes. But for others it’s much more than that. Primary school for me was difficult and challenging I felt like I didn’t belong, simply because no one gave me the chance to explain my condition. Students in my class realized I was different from them, as I performed much slower in everything I did.
A lot of people saw my disability and held it against me for being different. They pin point out all the faults in me and decided to hate me and everything. It’s not a nice feeling when people hate you , especially for no reason.
Throughout my primary schooling; I got bullied, pushed around etc. I didn’t have many friends and no one to stick up for me. However when I felt like I had the company of classroom peers, I didn’t realize all the students wanted to do was to trip, push and spit at me when there was no teacher around. It always made me happy when a student from my class would speak to me but that rarely happened. After years of trying to prove others to look beyond my disability, I gave up. I really did, it seemed like a black cloud was over me and I was just waiting for it to rain. I felt pointless.
I got treated really badly in school and outside of school. There are people who accept people like us but then there are the people who are rude not patient and inconsiderate.
Impatient people try to rush people with disabilities through life. This is issue is one that will never be forgotten. Why? Because everyday someone with a disability is made fun of a school, on the street etc. That people forget the more serious stuff.
Understanding needs to be brought to our society, a deeper understanding of what each of us, who carries a disability. It’s good to help them with work, schooling and so on, but to pretend everything else is fine is selfish. Not saying that helping with these isn’t good, it’s great, but people need to dig deeper and find a way to stop the hate. Even if people can bring knowledge to a few, it’s a few more people who will show the sympathy and respect to those who deserve and need to feel good about themselves and their lives.
Let me tell you, a few words could change someone’s life forever. I got called so many names which I guess I won’t mention but I hope you get what I’m trying to say .It’s almost like blaming a tree on how it’s structured …pretty ridiculous huh ? The most famous line people say to me ; Why you like that ? What’s wrong with you ? Oh stop (stap) it, making me feel like I’m famous and all . I don’t answer like that at all .
Allah says in the Quran:
"There is no blame for the blind, nor is there blame for the lame, nor is there blame for the sick (that they go not forth to war). And who so obey Allah and His messenger, He will make him enter Gardens underneath which rivers flow; and those turned back, him will He punish with a painful doom. "48:17
There are many challenges I have faced throughout my life .I would like to share with you some of the challenges;
The most challenging experience would have to be when I’m out in public. Usually at the shopping centres people would look down on me like I’m an alien which invaded earth . Some of the customers will push me around etc. One day actually I was with my social working causally walking around the shop . This lady who was behind us started to huff and puff saying under her breath “ I don’t have all day and what not “ and brushed past me .She could easily walked around and saved her breath! I have come across many people who are so rude and intolerant. I mean come on, if someone with cerebral palsy or any form of disability is in front of you walking/with a wheelchair it’s not going to harm you waiting just a few seconds while they pass , It’s really unfair when people find little things to discriminate me or others .
There came a day when I decided to shut down, I didn’t bother to make any effort in gaining friendship with others or professional relationships. I got really down for a few days. Those few days turned into a few months and those few months turned into years. I tried with all my will to help people to help me, but as we know we can only do so much for people after that it’s up to them really !
It’s amazing what just a few years of being bullied can do to someone. I will be honest with after high school I was too traumatized to go out and do the things I want to do . Why? It’s because of the past comments I got as a kid. I’m so much stronger now but like they say no matter how you build a building which has been destructed. It will still be a building just not the same building as before. That’s how my life has been after all my past events. Please remember to look out for your friends, you know check on them if you don’t hear from them in a while .I have been in such situations and the minute someone say’s “Hey what’s up?” it makes my days! Help those who are less weaker than that have disabilities.
It’s said to turn dreams into reality. Insha Allah I hope you all understand where I’m coming from, if a few people understand what more can we ask?! Sometimes under social stress and situations we can go into the misconception of judging people for useless matters. We must rise above that ,we must be people of understanding.
“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.”
Thanks for listening everyone . Any questions?