Why I Do What I Do
While we saw so much goodness that came from people during our time with Moriah, we saw that there was still so much room to grow as a society in the way we see and value people with special and medical needs. I saw that not everyone saw Moriah for who she was, nor valued her the way she should have been. Because she didn’t speak, she was often ignored. Because she looked different, I was asked “What’s wrong with her?” (in front of her, might I add). Because I knew of her heart defect in utero, I was asked why didn’t I abort her? When questioning why there weren’t certain medical programs, I was made aware that some people would rather put the funds towards children who didn’t have such severe disabilities. While we were in the sub-acute facility, we saw how little support and acknowledgement she and the children received from the world around them, although they were located in one of the most bustling, wealthiest cities of the country. Also, growing up in an Indian, south Asian culture, I saw the shame and stigma that surrounds having a child with disabilities (thankfully I had a family who loved Moriah wholeheartedly, and treated her no different than any other child).
When I would take Moriah out in public, people would either stare or just walk away. Sometimes, the staring would be so awkward that I would tell Moriah to just wave and say “Hi.” I found that this would allow people to start engaging with her, and create opportunity for conversation.
And so after Moriah died, Hiya Moriah was born.
My hope is to create a space where Moriah and her friends can see themselves and their experiences represented. I want to create a space where children can be empowered with knowledge about others because I believe knowledge is powerful, and can help break down social barriers that exist when making friends who are different than us. I want to create a space where children can empathize, and learn how to enter different worlds than their own. I want to show that our words hold power, and the simple act of saying “hiya” can open a whole new world of friendship and opportunity.
And lastly, I want to create a space where I can continue the legacy of my sweet girl and the everlasting impression that she left on this world. I can just imagine Moriah looking down from Heaven, smiling, and saying “Hiya” to all of us.
Jadon, Moriah, Justin, Victoria, new brother Shane, and Olivia Nelson
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