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Flying without wings

Towards the end of every year, Saint Martin CSA comes together as a community to reflect and celebrate life together. This day which is usually in the month of November is called St. Martin Day. The celebrations were graced by a special guest in the name of Simona Atzori, an Italian born motivational speaker, painter and dancer born without fore arms. She remained with us for what we called Saint Martin week where we were able to celebrate not for a single day but a whole week.

Flying Without Wings

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Effatha day celebrations

Simona's first encounter with the public in Kenya was during the Effatha Day celebrations which brought together parents and children with disabilities, children from special units, volunteers who work with and for people with disabilities in the area and the general public. This celebration was held in L'Arche Kenya Effatha Home which hosts people with and without intellectual disabilities to live in a community of love, friendship and trust. During this day, Simona expressed great admiration for children with disabilities and asked them to be proud of whom they are. She also challenged others to accept the people with disabilities and give them a chance to do what they can do best. Her self-acceptance was of great testimony to the masses that attended the ceremony. "If God was to grant a miracle of your choice would you ask for arms?" A participant asked Simona. In response, Simona explained that a great miracle had already been done in her life and she was not eager for any other miracle. "It's a miracle that my feet are my arms too. If God gave me arms today, I wouldn't know what to do with them. I honestly would not ask to be given arms." Such a testimony made us reflect so much about how we keep complaining to God about small things and are not keen on thanking him for the gifts He has entrusted to us.

effatha day

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Ol Kalau disabled children’s home

In another event Simona met children from a home for the physically disabled children and children from regular schools together with their parents, teachers and people from the community around this home. She had a moment to interact and celebrate life with them. The most striking part of this celebration was seeing children with disability perform on the same platform with Simona. They were able to deepen the understanding of their school motto which is Disability is not inability. These children were challenged to use their potential and to trust in themselves. The children were most interested in knowing how Simona's parents reacted on seeing that she was born without her fore limbs. The faces of these little ones clearly expressed the trauma that a lot of them underwent after their parents rejected them because they were born with disabilities. This was a great moment for us to reflect and thank God for the people whose love, self-giving and material support have enabled such children to experience love. We thank God for the people who offer their time, resources and expertise in journeying with these children touching their fragile hearts and reminding them that they are wonderful and lovable.

Ol Kalau

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Thomson Falls Nyahururu prison

Simona also had a chance to interact and motivate prisoners in one of the prisons in Nyahururu town. It was an extremely touching moment as the prisoners expressed how Simona made an impact in their life. Three days after her visit to the prison, she had this to say,

"A few days ago, I went to the prison and I was afraid. I didn't know what to tell them or even how to do it. All in all I went. It is difficult to say what happened in the prison for I was transformed. I have never felt such a feeling. It was so profound that I don't have words to describe the feeling. However I can rightly say that I loved it."

Simona's visit to the prison left them encouraged to take life positively and trust in themselves. Towards the end of the day's programme and as people dispersed, Simona joined the prisoners in dancing to a song in the local language and the feeling that filled the prison cannot easily be captured by words. People were moved to tears as they danced and celebrated life together.

Nyahururu Prison

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Kenyatta University

In other forums, Simona had a chance to meet with students from secondary schools and colleges around Nyahururu and also visited two universities. In Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Simona met students of the Department of Music and Dance, Fine Arts and later during the day addressed a public lecture for the university fraternity. She had a chance to see the Kenyan art and exchanged ideas on what dancing entails in this part of the globe. The university also appreciated the visit of Simona for her presence challenged them to be considerate and inclusive of people with disabilities. The vice chancellor of the university noted that the university has the highest number of students with disabilities. She noted that Simona's presence was of great impact to these students and those without disabilities in changing their attitude towards life. One of the students expressed what Simona's visit meant to her

'My encounter with simona touched me in a very profound way. As you get close to her, the little complains of life disappear. Though born without her forearms, she is very whole. She has accepted herself the way she is. She has never complained that she has no arms but has learnt to use what God gave her; i.e. her feet. She refers to them as her long arms which she sometimes uses to walk. Simona has taught me to accept myself the way I am.'

Kenyatta University

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That your joy may be complete

Simon a brought a message of hope to each an every one of us. To persons with physical disabilities and those without. She reminded us of the human desire to be happy and that happiness can only be found within. "No one can make you happy. You are the only one who can make yourself happy. Trust in yourself because you can. You are precious, you are beautiful"

Simona seemed to emphasize the message of hope and one of the strong convictions of Saint Martin CSA that everybody is precious. That every person despite their physical conditions, race, ethnic, religious or social-economic status is unique and ha something to offer. In our service with and for the poor, we allow the poor to transform our hearts. The greatest miracle that has ever happened in our apostolate is the realization that the poor are not a problem to be solved but a resource. They are a gift, a very precious gift who have the capacity to change our hearts and make us grow in love and generosity. We thank Simona for being part of this conviction and for helping invite other people into this conviction. We are grateful that her stay with us has touched us in a very special way and transformed us into new beings. A member of Saint Martin community says this of Simon's impact.

"She has done something beautiful to me and hopefully to each one of us. As an organization we focus so much on capacity building and we do a lot of trainings. However Simona has been able to make a big impact than all these trainings combined especially on changing people's attitude towards life."

Simona

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