In our latest Inspired story, we meet a young woman who came into this world a fighter, already with assumptions made by others about how her future would look. Born with a series of broken bones, and challenges for survival, this remarkable young woman has not only survived, but thrived and continues to define herself and the life she chooses to lead without apology.
Discovering the power of self that independence brings, and an enthusiasm for a more inclusive and peaceful society is what drives her work. Nadeera is an advocate for change and greater representation of people with disability in mass media. I have no doubt that this work will break down barriers, leading to new stories full of greater opportunities being possible for others.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Nadeera Vasu, InstaGram username: @nadeeravasu. I am 27 years old and I live in a beautiful and diverse country known as Malaysia.
What has been your journey of disability?
I was born with a rare genetical disorder called Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI). It is commonly known as Brittle Bone Disease. There are many types of OI, but I have the most severe form of it. When I was born, I had some complications. I was born with multiple fractures throughout my body.
Though some fractures had already healed in my mother’s womb, the X-ray showed this whole messed up structure, as if someone had beaten me up into pieces. In addition, my lungs were also underdeveloped and thus, I had some serious respiratory problems. I was in the ICU incubator for 22 days before the doctors told my parents they could take me home to make me feel comfortable and prepare for the worst.
However, here I am today, 27 years old and still very much alive. Throughout my life thus far, I’ve had about a few minor fractures and two major ones which I can remember very vividly. When I have an episode of fracture (usually in my legs), I will end up being bedridden and out of school for a few months as recovery takes longer than usual for me. That being said, due to the fact of being extra cautious and careful, the number of fractures I’ve had can be said to be a lot lesser as compared to some of the other OI warriors out there in general.
Besides fractures, I had to make numerous hospital visits throughout my younger days due to the respiratory issues I had had to endure. A slight cough and cold would eventually get me admitted to the hospital. Getting a place in a regular school wasn’t a walk in the park either. My mom had to fight for my rights to an education and eventually to a school that would accept me. She then spent the next 11 years accompanying me to school every single day.
In school, I didn’t have a particularly smooth ride either. From the aches and pains I had to endure from the long hours of sitting, to the bullying and isolation from my surrounding peers, and just being alone and lonely most of the time.
The one thing that kept me going was my mother’s love and sacrifices. And of course, my strong belief in God & the Bahá’í Faith.
My mom had to fight for my rights to an education and eventually to a school that would accept me
Fast forward, I graduated from school with exceptionally flying colours and made my way to university, completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology, and now work from home as an HR Executive whilst attempting to allocate some time to give back to the society in the form of advocacy and modelling.
I enjoy giving back to society in the form of advocacy around disability and modelling
Are there things about you that people misunderstand because of your disability?
I think people tend to assume that it’s going to be hard to be married to me because they would have to ‘take care’ of me and provide for me in a way that is different from that of a so-called ‘normal’ human beings . This really isn’t the case because I have just as much to offer as they do.
I may have physical limitations but that doesn’t mean I cannot bring a significant amount of value to relationships.
People also tend to have this assumption that I can’t have children due to my disability but that isn’t necessarily the case. I know many people with OI who happen to have children of their own and lead particularly ‘normal’ lives. It’s a case to case basis really. Plus,there are many people out there who are so called ‘normal’ but can’t have kids too.
Each and every individual on this planet is unique & different. So why generalize?
Where do you get inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from God and from the Central Figures of my religion. I gained a much deeper understanding on the true meaning & purpose of our existence through the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith & for this, I will be eternally grateful.
Which three words would you use to describe yourself?
Loving, Courageous, Empathetic
What is one thing, or experience you have had that completely changed your life?
The transition I made from school to university. The independence I gained in university was an experience like no other. I finally got the freedom to do things on my own without the help of my parents. Things just went uphill from there as I kept on gaining new experiences in life as the years went by, and I still am.
Who has been the most significant influences on who you are today?
My parents. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their unconditional love and support.
What’s one thing about you that surprises people?
‘How can such a loud voice come from such a tiny body?’ hahahahaha!!
For what are you most grateful today?
Everything. It is hard to point out just one thing honestly. I am super grateful for every single thing I have today, be it how big or tiny it may be for I believe that every single thing or experience has value in it, be it good or bad.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
“Dear Nadeera, Love comes from within, just like the Sun. The Sun possesses heat & light and the heat really represents the love from within you. What good would the Sun be if it only possessed light but was void of heat & radiance? Always remember Nadeera, to look within you. For what is within you, is all the attributes gifted to you by God, waiting to penetrate into this vast universe.
First, you change that which is within you, & everything else will also change on the outside.”
Do you have a funny story involving or relating to having your disability you can share?
This isn’t just a single story, but there have been a few instances where my mom has been asked ‘can she talk?’ or we have gotten distant remarks from strangers such as ‘omg she talks!’. Like duhhh, I’m human people, not an alien. Lol!
Is there something that you would like people to know about you or about people with disability that they might not know?
People with disabilities, like myself, have natural urges, wants and desires just like everyone else. We have feelings and emotions too. How you react to us and the things you say really makes a difference. Hence, instead of just making assumptions, I would urge the public to take the time to get to know us as a person & look at our souls instead of what’s merely on the surface.