BEIRUT: Often we are told to hide things that make us different – to live in the shadow of our weaknesses. But what if our unique qualities are what make us stronger, empowered, confident, and… superhuman?
Rita Esber never thought she would become a source of inspiration. Born without a left forearm below the elbow, the 27-year-old Graphic Designer can do way more than she is signed up to do in this life.
“Nothing is impossible. The biggest misconception is from people who think I can't do things without even letting me try,” Esber told Annahar. “I always deal with pity looks and stares from strangers, especially when they see me doing something I am not supposed to be able to do, such as working out at the gym.” She added that “despite this, I manage to wear a smile and go through the day like nothing happened, keeping in mind that they do not know who I am and what I am capable of.”
Esber’s childhood brings nothing but good memories. She stressed that it was not any different than that of other children.
“I used to sharpen my pencils, tie my own hair and shoelaces, and ride a bicycle alone without needing anyone’s help,” Esber said.
Esber suffers from a congenital amputation—a condition where a baby is born without a limb or multiple limbs. Her condition was only discovered at birth, which shocked the doctors and her parents.
“When I was born, my parents were devastated. They were worried about the extent of my disability and how this would influence my life. But once they accepted the situation, they turned into the most supportive parents out there, helping me become the person I am today,” she revealed.
According to doctors, Esber’s condition was caused by a virus that affected her eldest sister and was transmitted to her mother when she was pregnant. The virus was then passed on to the fetus, resulting in a missing hand.
It took Esber time to accept her limb difference and find the powerful woman she is now.
“A lot of people came into my life and I went through several good and bad experiences that taught me a lot,” Esber said. “I believe that if I was born with two normal hands, I wouldn’t have had this resilience and strong personality.”
Esber dreams to reach out to a larger number of people to inspire and motivate them, share with them her experience, and tell them that imperfection is beautiful.
"Life is amazing, we only come once to it and we all have a place in it. I feel like I want to try and make it a better place for the next generation to shine brightly,” she said. “Take risks, be positive, do things that scare you, be your own superhero.”
Esber not only aims at becoming a motivational speaker, but she would also like to establish a foundation for limb differences to help all those who are in need.
“I want people to learn from my experience,” Esber told Annahar. “I want to show them that they can do anything they put their minds to.”
When asked about a wish she would want to fulfill in the present, she told NAYA about the bionic arm – a high-tech prosthetic arm that mimics her muscle movements. The functional hand can be very helpful and useful for someone like Esber. The arm costs 55K USD. For the last months, Esber’s friends and entourage have been helping her collect the amount through an online fundraising website, but they did not hit the target yet.
“When I was younger, I remember being afraid of meeting new people as I thought they might not accept me. Now, I do not have this fear anymore,” Esber explained. “I love the exposure and going to crowded places. I never hide my arm not even in photos. I am really excited that I am at this point in my life and I am happy and confident. I just learned to love myself first.”
Welcome to “Naya”, the newest addition to Annahar’s coverage. This section aims at forti-fying Lebanese women’s voices by highlighting their talents, challenges, innovations, and women’s empowerment.
We will also be reporting on the world of work, family, style, health, and culture. Naya is devoted to women of all generations-Naya Editor, Sally Farhat: [email protected]
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