A woman in Indonesia is proving that even the most challenging of disabilities needn't slow you down.
Sri Lestari was left paralyzed from the chest down at the age of 23 after a motorcycle accident. Unable to afford a wheelchair and devastated by her diagnosis, Lestari said she became profoundly dispirited. She was trapped at home for the next decade, doing very little.
"I was unhappy at the time. I wasn't working and was unproductive," she said in a powerful YouTube video posted this week. "I was really depressed."
But in 2007, Lestari was given a wheelchair by United Cerebral Palsy's Wheels for Humanity, a California-based nonprofit that works to provide increased mobility to individuals with disabilities worldwide. This has involved manufacturing and delivering thousands of wheelchairs to people in developing countries, such as Mexico, Uganda, Mongolia and Thailand. According to a news release this week, the organization has delivered more than 60,000 wheelchairs in developing nations since its inception in 1995.
Lestari's wheelchair gave her a new lease on life. She began venturing beyond the walls of her home, volunteering with visually impaired students and working with injured earthquake victims. A few years later, Lestari was hired as a social worker by UCP Roda Untuk Kemanusiaan (UCPRUK), Wheels for Humanity's Indonesian offshoot organization. It was her first job since her accident. She was also given a modified motorcycle to allow her to travel independently.
"It's like a dream come true," she said, beaming, of her life transformation. "I'm very happy."
Today, Lestari zooms across the country, sharing the restorative message of hope with people, including children, with disabilities.
"It's my freedom," she said of her motorcycle. "I have a dream that I can travel from Jakarta to Bali [a distance of more than 700 miles] and then I will stop in each city to visit paraplegics who still stay at home. I will share my experience with them. … They can be just like me. They can be free and independent."
UCPRUK's website states that "[i]ndividuals’ and families’ perceptions of their own limits are transformed the moment they meet Sri [Lestari]."
We're not the least bit surprised.
(Hat tip, Reddit)