Doctors dismissed Saharsha Bekkers as a “lazy” baby. As she approached her first birthday, she could only roll halfway and could only sit if propped, and even then she needed to use her little hands to hold herself upright. But as the weeks progressed without improvement, the Singaporean-born girl’s mother, Nabanita Sen Bekkers, grew increasingly concerned.
“Just like every other Google- and Facebook-enlightened mother of our age, I began to panic and finally decided to take her to a physiotherapist,” the 35-year-old told Mamamia. “The physiotherapist only took a moment after seeing her to refer us to a neurologist.”
Given the symptoms and Saharsha’s 10-week premature birth, Nabanita and her husband, Harald, were told to prepare for a diagnosis of cerebral palsy – an umbrella term for movement disorders caused by damage to the brain, generally before or shortly after birth. But when it came, the forewarning had done little to soften the blow.
“[We] were shattered. I didn’t know to whom I should turn or where to find peace. While our friends and family were all very supportive, we felt we were on a completely different boat, as no one else we knew had dealt with something similar,” she said. “We went through the usual emotions of sadness, anger, despair, and [to process them] we went for a week to a remote island in Vietnam and drank copious amounts of wine.
“However, Saharsha was always our saving star. She has a smile and a laugh that can light up any dark day. So I would say, in the end, our love for Saharsha was stronger than any other emotion we felt. We knew we had to make it work and make sure we give our little girl the best shot at what life has to offer.”
Nearly three years on, that smile is reaching thousands via an Instagram account Nabanita started to chronicle her daughter’s incredible life. It’s called Chronicles of Zhazha (Saharsha’s self-appointed nickname.)
“Saharsha in her wee three years has already lived in three countries (Sri Lanka, Singapore and now Australia) and travelled to over a dozen, spanning from the US to Fiji. Then I thought why not showcase that to everyone, to also show that being differently abled doesn’t necessarily limit you from living your life to the fullest.”
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