Cheryl's story as an Aboriginal woman with disability.
Content Warning: Mentions violence, Aboriginal heritage, trauma.
Hello, my name is Cheryl. I am 56 years old. I live in Sydney I was born on Gweagal land and am a part of the Wiradjuri nation. I come from a stolen generation family and I am an amputee.
I have been studying for many years and have completed 2 Diplomas. Indigenous Legal Studies and Indigenous Community Development, and also Cert 2 and 4 Indigenous Leadership.
My childhood was full of learning. I loved school and was an attentive student. I achieved a leaving certificate and started a job at Coles and learnt what life was like in the outside world. I was always interested in Aboriginal culture and lifestyle and wanted to learn more and practice my cultural heritage. I remember sitting around the dinner table with my mum and nan, my uncles and aunties, and talking about Aboriginal issues. I would go to school and share all I had learned. The other kids were mean to me but I didn’t care because I knew I was proud of my heritage and I never let them make me feel ashamed. I loved the connection I felt to my family and to the land. It made me feel like I belonged.
When I got older, I had three children who I love and am proud to be able to continue my family. Unfortunately however, when they were young, I was a victim of a traumatic experience which resulted in me loosing my arm, and walking capabilities. After this I spent six months in rehab and my mother took on the responsibility of my children during that time. With a lot of help from my family and the Aboriginal Medical centre, I eventually went home with my family. It took a long time after this for me to come to recover physical and also to come to terms with my disability – but my family and connection to culture gave me the strength to go on.
These days I have limited walking capabilities and use a stick to help me balance, but I lead a comfortable life and have studied to be a librarian.
I am sharing my story because despite my struggles, I am proud to live as a black Aboriginal woman with a disability and I want others like me to know they are not alone.
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