My last week in Tanzania has been extremely inspiring and the people I've met here have left a lasting impression.
As you know, my dream for this trip started in 2013. In early 2016, I formed a relationship with EG Funds Management who agreed to sponsor me. From there we partnered up with an incredible organisation in Tanzania, and here we are today.
Thank you for being patient with me and allowing me to store all of my equipment in your garage. Along with my own equipment, I also reached out to a range of sponsors who helped me with more equipment.
The list totals:
-3 tennis wheelchairs
-2 day wheelchairs
-6 tennis nets
-4 tennis bags
-5 carry bags
-79 sets of string
-1 tennis wheelchair
-Assorted tools and spare parts
Some of the equipment we freighted over. It was all a last minute rush, so I would like to extend a big thank you to all those that helped me.
I arrived in Tanzania six days ago with Rodney and Roger from EG, as well as Elliot - a friend and reporter who is with me to film a documentary. We stayed one night in Dar Es Salaam before heading to Iringa, a town about 500km west or an hour and a half by small plane. I had no idea what to expect when we touched down, but we were absolutely delighted by what was the most spectacular welcome party ever!
There was dancing and singing from everyone.
The kids were orphans from two local St John's Orphanages. This was my first exposure to what is a huge issue across Africa. In Iringa alone there are over 3000 orphans. It was very challenging to see beautiful and innocent kids with no families to love and support them. Emotions welled, but they were so full of joy that I put my own feelings to the side. I gave them the only thing I could in the moment, my time and my presence and enjoyed sharing dinner with them.
Next stop was Neema Crafts, an amazing organisation who are changing the perspective of disability across Tanzania. Their slogan is "Be Part Of The Story". They are only just getting started, but their impact is being felt across the country.
They create opportunities for people with disabilities to fulfil their potential, learn skills to help them sustain themselves and shift the perspective of a town in the process. By providing employment and housing to people who would otherwise be deemed unemployable and struggle to find a house to rent, Neema truly goes above and beyond.
I was so grateful when their director asked me to speak to their staff and share my story. At first I didn't know what to say to a group of people who had been through so much, and had much harder lives than I felt like I've had. How could I possibly inspire these people who are such an inspiration to me? I remembered Neema's slogan to be part of the story and I centred my talk on the theme that all of our stories are important. I told them how much they inspire me and that they will inspire people in Australia as well. I ended the talk by telling them to believe in themselves and to follow their inspiration, as much as I was talking to them, I was also talking to myself.
I’m trying to find the right words to close off this letter, but the only thing flowing are the tears down my cheeks. I came here to inspire and be inspired, to try and make a difference in the world. I knew I would be tested, that I would have to dig deep and find out what I'm made of. I've found that I'm nothing by myself, in a community I am at my strongest. The community over here is incredible, the way they support each other and have welcomed me has opened my heart.
In this moment I have been shaken to the core of everything that I thought I was, and everything that I thought the world was. Being exposed to life with a disability over here is truly eye opening; the strength it must take to get through each day is phenomenal. I am lost for words, but truly grateful for the shared experiences and life lessons I have learned.
Lots of love, Adam.
Growing up in St. Ives on Sydney’s north, Adam Kellerman was a rowdy young boy with perfect health who loved tennis, swimming, running, skiing, ice hockey and soccer. After experiencing pain in his leg, it was discovered that he was affected by a form of bone cancer in his right hip called Ewings Sarcoma. Adam went through a series of chemo-therapy treatments as well as major surgery, he contracted an infection following the major surgery which needed another 19 unplanned surgeries as well as 2 years of IV antibiotics. He also fought off a serious case of depression over the whole time period. When Adam was introduced to wheelchair tennis in December 2006, he discovered a slice of happiness and found a space in which he could kickstart his life again. Adam competed in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio and his dream is to become World #1 for wheelchair tennis. Adam also delivers inspiring motivational talks on various topics derives from his life experience. Adam is sponsored by Goodman, EG Funds Management, Superfeast, Eclipse Organics and Head International. http://adamkellerman.com/