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The Real Face of the Never Give Up Spirit - By Dr. Jane Nannono

The Real Face of the Never Give Up Spirit - By Dr. Jane Nannono


Things happen fast worldwide and living in the Digital era, they are spread fast online, on air, on mobile and on the television. We see things as they happen.

On the 24th of May 2017, the world news was dominated by the horrendous Suicide bombing in Manchester, United Kingdom, President Trump’s first visit abroad – taking him to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Rome and Belgium. Among the items overshadowed by the main news was the swearing- in of an immaculately dressed man in a wheelchair as the 44th President of Ecuador ( meaning Equator in Spanish). Ecuador is the fourth smallest country in South America and has a population of 16.14 million(2015).


His swearing- in reminded me instantly of another President in a wheelchair of another time: the 32nd President of USA, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945). An outdoors man who, at the age of 29 years, suffered from polio and was left paralysed. With the support of his wife, Eleanor, and family, he was able to achieve partial recovery. He later went on to rejoin the political arena and went on to be elected for two terms as Governor of New York and the only politician to be elected for four terms as the President of United States of America. He was often referred to as the Wheelchair President.


Thanks to the internet, after seeing the swearing-in of Lenin Moreno, the only current head of state in a wheel chair, I went to work to get to know this man and by the time I finished reading his story, I had added him on my list of my biggest idols. He is sixty- four years old, married with three children. He was born in a middle class family; his father was a teacher. Lenin studied Psychology at University and joined Public Administration after graduation. This is the best part for me though tragic: In January 1998, he was ambushed by two young robbers in a grocery parking lot in Quito capital city. They stole his money and car and shot him in the back. He was paralysed in both legs. He spent some time in a hospital bedridden and in excruciating pain.

 When the doctors and other health workers could not offer him anything else, he refused to be defined by that injury. He was determined to take back his personal power and control his life-get what he wanted for himself and in his life.


 As a psychologist he turned to Laughter Therapy. He used humour as a form of healing and was later to write about this experience for his Foundation known as ‘Eventa’ - promoting humour and joy as a way of life

He was able to change the dynamics of his life by changing his thinking.


Four years after the robbery, he went back to work. He joined politics and was appointed the Vice President of Ecuador from 2007- 2013. During this period, he shifted his focus off himself and focused on helping the disabled to claim their rights. He reinvented himself as an advocate for the rights of the disabled in Ecuador.  In 2012, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize because of this work. He was at one time  UN’s Goodwill Ambassador for the disabled. He has written numerous books on the therapy of humour.


He resigned as Vice president in 2013. Mentored by the outgoing President of the country, Rafael Correa ,he declared himself as a presidential candidate for the October 2016 elections. Having failed to get the required clear majority, he had to go for the rerun in February 2017. It was a bitterly divided election that left the country polarized. He is a Socialist, he came from behind to narrowly defeat a Conservative banker.  He takes over power at a challenging time when Ecuador is in a recession due to the fallen Oil prices.


To many of us Lenin Moreno is the Portrait of courage, patience, determination and hard work. He proves to us all that common mantra: Disability is not Inability. He must have believed in himself, believed and seen his dream then prepared for it. He must be a ruthlessly focused man who is also ready to make a difference by serving others.


He proves Evangelist Joyce Meyer’s saying that miracles come in ‘Cans’ not ‘Cants’. He chose to fight on other than quit and give up. He has a great spirit and a heart. He is indeed a Role model to many of us: he has changed the world faster than what laws and policies would take years to change. He is a great inspiration to all of us- the disabled and the able-bodied.


He must be very happy and humbled to be recognized for his leadership, his work and dedication.

I for one promise not to give myself any more excuses for not getting on with my life; I do not do the world any good by thinking small. I have decided to delete the words ‘I can’t’ from my vocabulary and replace them in bold with ‘I can.’ For all the races I run and the battles I fight start in my mind.


We are all delighted and amazed by his tenacity and humility. I take off my hat to him and pray that he becomes a charismatic leader with immense prowess and a great vision for his country. From now on, I shall be looking for his biography. I have also declared myself Lenin Moreno’s willing Follower.


One relevant quote from the late icon of the 21st century, Nelson Mandela: “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.’’ Thank you for reading this post and may it give you hope and optimism to live a life worth living.



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