Chanelle shares her story of how she has overcome discrimination.
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[Title on screen reads, ‘Chanelle’s Story’]
[Text on screen reads, ‘Content Warning: Includes discussion of violence and discrimination’]
[Our Site logo]
[Chanelle is in her forties. She is in front of her computer]
G'day. My name is Chanelle and I am from Queensland in Australia.
[Photo of Chanelle in a garden. She is in her wheelchair]
I am an upcoming artist, poet and novelist writer. I fell in love with Queensland in 2010 when the airplane landed in Brisbane. I migrated from South Africa to Australia in 2010. The path I had to continue on was one of the most arduous paths I ever encountered and there were times I thought I wouldn't be able to do that.
The man that I gave up everything for abandoned me after a few months of married life. I was alone in a foreign country. I knew nothing about the lifestyle, culture or anything else, for that matter. I didn't have any friends or family. I was beyond afraid and I was disabled. The only matter I had was my faith - my faith in God and my faith in myself.
[Chanelle at her graduation]
The principal challenge I faced as a woman with a disability was to believe in myself when no-one else did, not even my family. I managed to change the stereotype path everyone else assumed I would take.
To be honest, it was one of the most difficult things I did. However, once I shut out everyone else's opinion and criticism concerning myself and the future everyone else wanted for me, things started to change for the better for myself.
There are so many challenges that I already faced and there is no doubt that I will face many more in the future.
Some of the prominent challenges I faced over the years were the following:
I was told that due to the severity of my disability I won't be able to walk, talk or help myself. Well, that prediction fell on its face, didn't it? The only one that came true was the inability to walk. Walking is so overrated these days anyway. I'm sure if I wanted to put my mind to it I would have walked too.
Then there was the forecast that I won't complete either primary or high school. What did I do? I laughed at the premature prophecies because it was clear to me that the so-called experts were under the impression that I was just another stereotype.
[Chanelle is handed her graduation certificate]
Lastly, my grade seven English teacher told me in front of the whole class that I won't ever speak English on an acceptable level. Again, I was judged as a stereotype.
When I commenced studying law, criminology and psychology in South Africa I realised that young girls and women with disabilities did not always know what their rights and responsibilities were and most of them have no-one to look up to or be inspired to change their lives.
I have a passion to help other young girls and women to have a future they deserve.
My advocacy started when I migrated to Australia and I hope that if I can only help one young girl to know what her rights are then I'll be satisfied.
[Smiling Chanelle in her graduation cap and gown]
You are the captain of your own future and only you have the power to decide how you want your life to be. Don't ever say to yourself you can't. The word 'can't' doesn't exist in my vocabulary. Neither should it be in yours. If the traditional way of doing something doesn't align with your individual requirements then do it your way. Never stop trying.
From my own experience I know and completely understand how difficult it is to break the chains society binds us with. However, we are the only ones who can break these chains. I want young girls and women to become warriors, warriors of the mind. Though we can't be physical warriors, we definitely are all warriors of the mind.
No matter how disabled you are, start believing in yourself, even when no-one else believes in you.
[Text on screen reads, ‘Watch more stories at Our Site oursite.wwda.org.au’]
[The logo for Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA)]