Disability, poverty, and love
Stevie is 27, lives with cerebral palsy, and recently visited Zambia. Find out why.
Hi, I'm Stevie, a 27-year-old chick who lives with cerebral palsy. I deeply love my family and friends. There is nothing better than spending time with those I love. I’m always reflecting on the deeper things in life and I love talking and writing about them. Poetry is my specialty. I delight in the ‘little’ things in life: listening to music, the warmth of the sunshine, the sound of rain, coffee, chocolate and making people laugh. I’ve completed a Diploma in Counselling and would like to work with people with disability. I recently spent time in Zambia, and wanted to share some of my experiences with you.
Life in Zambia
I’d heard about culture shock; people struggling to adjust and live within a culture that’s vastly different from their own. As I met people living with disabilities in poverty, I was grabbed, not by the differences between myself and them, but by the commonalities we share. I discovered that I’m not vastly different to them. We share that which is fundamental to being human; eating, drinking, playing, laughing, caring for loved ones and interacting within our communities. We all need food, clothing, and a place to rest our heads. But deeper than that, we need to be loved, to be cared for and to care. Just like us, people living with disabilities in poverty need to know that they matter.
Living with a disability
It happened several times in Africa, and it happens in Melbourne too. A waiter assumes that I and my companions have ESP. “What would she like to order?” they ask my friend or family member. My friends and family only seem to know the answer if it has already come up in conversation.
It was cool to see the staff at the hotel in Lusaka, Zambia grow more comfortable with me as the week progressed. They were sweet people. I experienced the full range of reactions towards myself during the trip. Many, if not all, the people I met in Zambia would never have seen a white person with a disability before. Maybe they learnt that we white people don’t have it all together either.
Some people couldn’t understand my speech, no matter how much they tried. What matters most to me, is that they did try. I don’t mind people being a bit unsure about me. Sometimes I’m a bit unsure about me. But I hope that over time, they learn that I’m not that much different to them.
Loving people with disability
You know the most amazing thing about love? It doesn’t decrease the more we give it away! It actually gets better! ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and body; Love your neighbor as yourself’. Loving others doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to pack up and move to a developing country (but it could be a good idea!). However, we are encouraged in the Bible to live a deliberate life of service to those who most need it: the poor, lonely, sick, hurt and excluded.
‘And what does the Lord require of you? But to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God’ Micah 6:8.
‘When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed’ Luke 14:13.
Over 1 billion people in the world have a disability and 80% of those live in the world’s poorest countries. If you are interested in working with people with disability in developing countries, or supporting this work, visit www.create2change.org.