At the beginning of the week I accidentally cut my first finger on my right hand on the sharp edge of a tin lid that I had foolishly left in the washing up bowl.
I have been amazed at how such a tiny cut has become so debilitating. So many things we take for granted are suddenly made much more difficult to do. Fastening buttons, typing, holding mallets, opening bottles and even doing up my bra have been extremely hard to accommodate with my bandaged finger. So poor me!
Frustrated by my limitations I found myself considering how it must feel to suffer much worse disabilities. I recently performed a double concerto for percussion and cello written by Olga Hans for Dominik Połoński and myself. Dominik was born in 1977 and for many years he was absolutely the number one young talent in Poland. He achieved almost everything for a Young musician – won several competitions, played concerts, recorded many CDs, received a scholarship at the legendary Escuela Superior de Musica Reina Sofia in Madrid, where he studied under Natalia Szachowska, and Mścisław Rostropowicz.
In 2004 he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He went through 4 operations and his left hand remains disabled. In 2006 Doctors told him ‘this is it’, and gave him 3 weeks to live. Dominik started working with therapists using only his mind. After a while the cancer was gone.
In January 2009 he returned to the stage and performed a piece by Olga Hans – first cello concerto for the right hand.
During our recent performance in Lodz, Poland I was and remain deeply humbled by Dominik’s tenacity and determination and performing with him will always be one of my proudest moments.
Here in the UK we are on the run up to Comic Relief and each time I see the work of the charities including AbleChildAfrica I can only imagine the overwhelming sense of futility for millions of children with disabilities in the poorest parts of the world. How would I feel if I had not had the support of a peripatetic teacher or my family and friends? What would my life have been like if I had been born deaf in Africa where the only hope must come from the kindness of others?
I am always heartened by the generosity of those who pledge millions each year for charities who are supported by Comic Relief and I am hoping to visit some of the projects in Kenya and Uganda to see for myself how our efforts are put to good use and how we are making a difference – so please dig deep in your hearts and pockets and know that every small donation really does help.
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