Adam Kellerman

My journey to Tanzania – Week 3: Mambo from Kenya

Adam Kellerman
My journey to Tanzania – Week 3: Mambo from Kenya

Dear Mum,

It's the eve of my last day in Africa, sometimes I feel like I could stare at a blank page forever as I think about the best way to describe my experience. Often the best way for me to begin is to express whatever is in my mind and heart during the moment I sit down in front of the keyboard.

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The two weeks prior to Zanzibar were so jam-packed; they were made up of meeting people, schools, speeches and travelling around. I hardly had a moment to process what I was experiencing, so when we got to Zanzibar it all hit me at once. Having met people who make me reflect on my history, my story and how I dealt with the challenges was, and still is, extremely confronting. I have always known how lucky we are in Australia, but that reality hit me harder as I experienced the daily challenges that these people face. Over here people struggle to feed their families on a daily basis. I wasn't ready to leave Zanzibar, I could have spent hours looking over the ocean, thinking and writing. It was such a beautiful place and I felt like we had only just arrived when it was time to leave. 

Nevertheless, after a short flight to Mombasa, through customs, and another short flight to Nairobi I was ready for the finale of this grand African adventure. I met the Kenyan team at the Nairobi Club, where they train sometimes. Most of the Kenyan team travelled over 10 hours by bus from Mombasa to Nairobi to spend a few days with me and train together. It was very humbling and I was extremely grateful. We shared a quick meal together before piling into to four Ubers and heading to the residence of the Australian High Commissioner of East Africa. 

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Before I became involved, the Australian High Commissioner, John Feaks, had welcomed the Kenyan wheelchair tennis team to train on his tennis court whenever they needed to, to prepare for competitions. We were given access to the court for as long as we wanted on the days we were there. It was great to spend some quality time with the players; I coached them on how to warm up properly, movement to prepare for shots as well as individual tips on how to improve their overall game. Coaching is still new for me and I got very excited when I saw some immediate improvements by the team.

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On the first day of training the Deputy High Commissioner, Jeremy Green, invited us to stay for a small cocktail party and play an exhibition match of wheelchair tennis in front of a group of friends and expats. It was a great opportunity to showcase wheelchair tennis and gather more support for the Kenyan team. I was asked to give a brief talk; I told them about the role wheelchair tennis has played in my life, the opportunities that I've received from it and why it's so important in changing the attitude of the general populous about people with diffabilities. It was a great evening and another example of an Australian supporting people in need.

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This African adventure is almost over but I feel like there will be many more in the future, my work here is most definitely not complete. The people here are extremely inspiring, hard working and deserving of more opportunities. It is my mission moving forward to set up a charity or foundation in Australia to support wheelchair tennis in developing countries, starting with East Africa. I don't know how long that will take, but for now I will be starting an online fundraising campaign aiming to raise $100,000 for the organisations that I've visited on this trip.

With deep gratitude,

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/