Emmanuel's Gift
Monday, 30 July 2012 13:21

ShevaIf you are born with a disability in Ghana, West Africa, you will likely be poisoned or left to die or hidden away in a room. And if none of those things happen, you are destined to spend your life begging on the streets. In Ghana, there is a perception that a child's disability is the result of a family curse or a punishment from a deity for parents' past transgressions.


Emmanuel Osofu Yeboah has made it his life's mission and purpose to change all that forever.

On May 5, 1977, Emmanuel was born with a severely deformed leg. That same day, his father abandoned the family, feeling disgraced by his son's disability. His mother, Comfort Yeboah, ignoring advice to kill her son, instead enrolled him in school and taught him to believe that he deserved the same treatment, opportunities, and privileges as able-bodied Ghanaians and that disability does not mean inability.

Feeling a desire and a duty to share that message after his mother died, Emmanuel rode a bicycle across Ghana with one leg, becoming a national hero.

The 2005 film, Emmanuel's Gift, narrated by Oprah Winfrey, chronicles the life and story of this young Ghanaian who today, against incalculable odds, is opening minds, hearts and doors effecting social and political change throughout his country and the world.

Emmanuel's message is vital: people with disabilities are valuable contributors to any society. He inspires disabled, challenged, vulnerable and comfortable people to achieve their fullest dreams.

Sheva Carr, founding director of HeartMath's HeartMastery Program, founding CEO Fyera!, and Executive Director of the nonprofit Fyera Foundation and the Sunflower SunPower Kids, now has the honor or working alongside Emmanuel to inspire others to share Emmanuel's Dream.

Sheva will be talking with Emmanuel on August 1, 2012 at 5:15 p.m. PT / 8:15 p.m. ET about his life and story.

We invite you to join us for the inspiring conversation.


To register, please complete the form below:

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Recently, Sheva had the opportunity to meet Emmanuel in person. Here is what she had to say:

Emmanuel & Sheva
Emmanuel & Sheva
I have a collage of photos and images of my heros in my office which I look at every day to remind me of the who I came here to be. Peace Pilgrim, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Anne Frank, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Oprah Winfrey, Eckhart Tolle, Albert Schweitzer, Mother Theresa, Martha Graham, Dr. Randolph Stone, Doc Childre, Gary Strauss, Gangaji, Helen Keller, Ramana Maharishi- These personal heros and more I have placed on my inner council. When I am challenged by a situation or a choice, I sit before them and breathe their wisdom, courage, compassion, kindness and understanding into my heart, and I invite the guidance of this virtual "tribal counsel of elders" to speak to me.

Among them is a young man from and currently living in Ghana- Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah.??I first learned about Emmanuel in 2005 when I saw the movie made about his life, "Emmanuel's Gift". "Emmanuel's Gift" (a must see film) tells the tale of this young, disabled man who rode a bicycle across Ghana (about 600 kilometers) on his one leg to eradicate his country's negative perception of the 'disabled'. If you are born disabled in Ghana, West Africa you are likely to be poisoned, or left to die by your family; and if you are not poisoned or left for dead, you're likely to be hidden away in a room; and if you're not hidden, you are destined to spend your lifetime begging on the streets. Emmanuel's mission has been to change all that forever. Today, against incalculable odds, he is opening minds, hearts and doors-and effecting social and political change throughout his country and the world. By being an embodiment of personal dignity and commitment to his core values and vision, he went from being the least respected member of his society earning less than a dollar a day, abandoned by his father and orphaned by the death of his mother, to being invited to the United Nations and the White House, winning awards from Nike, ESPN, and changing the lives of over 2 million disabled people in Ghana. He was the first "disabled" person in Ghana to receive an invitation by the King to the Palace in Ghana, collectively dispelling the myth that being physically disabled is a spiritual curse. All of this and more is laid out more inspirationally and profoundly in the film which I recommend without hesitation if you have yet to see it.??

So there sits a photo of Emmanuel on my collage, a man I have turned to in times of despair to find inner strength, tenacity, clarity of purpose, transcendence of self pity through a vision of greater service to others than my own self satisfying perception of need and validation...

Sheva presenting with Emmanuel
Sheva presenting with Emmanuel

Imagine my delight when I heard that Emmanuel was coming to Santa Cruz, CA, just 25 minutes from my home!! Meeting my hero in person did not disappoint. I soaked silently in his presence watching him speak, sign autographs, offer inspiration, offer to sell crafts made by differently abled people in Ghana that they might have a respectable way to earn their living other than begging. As much inspiration as I was able to absorb from his film and his photograph, his presence downloaded even more. There was no urgency to his approach, as he gently took the time to open each DVD case brought to him and sign the movie inside. He didn't become tired or anxious or bored with the hoards that surrounded him. He treated each person like a gemstone, spending just the right amount of time with them to let them know they mattered- they were important- but not so much that anyone in line became impatient. He spoke of how much more gratifying it was to give than to take, and how he had now been a catalyst for many "disableds" in Ghana to complete a university education through his scholarship programs and sports academy, even though he himself had not been able to finish school. Most touching of all to me was his humility, the absence of "be somebody vanity" that so many of our athletes and North American heros have here. He glowed with radiance as a mere reflection of the light of those he seeks to inspire. There was nothing of self importance or "better than" in his countenance- he was just a pure mirror of the best of the human heart, reflecting that back to us with his own story of courage and love.??

Sheva presenting with Emmanuel
Sheva presenting with Emmanuel

 

 

Since Emmanuel is my inspiration, a reflection of the growth I am called to as my heart's blueprint, I seek to follow in his footsteps (all the more beautiful as those steps are taken with his prostheses!) by letting this be an invitation for you to step into the light of those you admire. And I invite you to support me by seeing me release my own entitlement, self importance, longing to "be somebody" so that I can be the light I see in Emmanuel. May his gift be a gift to you, as it has been to me!??With deep love and inspiration,?-- Sheva

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last Updated on Monday, 30 July 2012 14:00