Refusing to Accept Defeat

Making a dream come true needs persistence and determination regardless of a person’s situation. Having a disability is never an obstacle for those who believe.  A physical disability can prevent a body part from moving but will never prevent the soul from believing. HOME Magazine got the chance to listen to the story of Rita Saade and Mona Lahib, the two hand-cycle runners at Beirut Marathon, who regardless of their disability where able to feed their passion.

The unexpected incident

Rita Saade from Mairuba lost her ability to walk after an incorrect diagnosis from a doctor. She was just 12 years old and her whole life  changed. “I  had  to  face a new challenge. The challenge of facing my new life. The challenge of walking  again,”  she describes.  Rita  went into a coma after her surgery which caused her total paralysis. Because of continuous physiotherapy, she was  able to move her hands again  and talk.

As for Mona Lahib from Saadneyel, she was injured during the Lebanese civil war. At the age of six, Mona’s injury in her backbones left her paralysed and unable to walk. She has been in a wheelchair since then.

The light in the darkness

The girls didn’t surrender to their disability. It was a reason for them to fight for what they believed in. “I always saw myself participating in the Beirut     Marathon. I used to see this day in front of my eyes,” Rita says. Her passion was proving to herself and her family that she is able to excel at what she loves. In 2013, she participated in the 42 km hand-cycle Marathon and won the first place. Rita puts her success down to a number of things and believes that it’s the same for everyone else. “The belief in God. The belief in the abilities you have and how you can use them in the perfect   way.”

In 2003, Mona Lahib participated for the first time in the 42 km marathon using her unprepared wheelchair. She suffered from hand injuries after winning the first place. “Sport is the only way for me to release the stress of life,” Mona describes.

Persistence: the key of success

 After succeeding once, Mona and Rita never stopped competing in the marathon. It is their way to prove to themselves first that they are capable of doing anything. Since, 2003 Mona has run every marathon. As for Rita, 2013 was the starting point. “Setting your goal and persisting to reach it despite of any obstacle you will be facing, gives you the power to fight and never surrender,” assures Rita.

A tough road

Being a person with a special need in a country that is not really equipped to help them is a problem. “We are lacking the most basic needs in this country from medical services to transportation,” says Rita when talking about some obstacles she had to face. As for Mona, the main obstacle she is facing until now is the stairs at her HOME in Baabda. “I can’t do anything. It’s hard for me to leave HOME to practice for the Marathon, to have a small picnic without the help of someone,” she describes. “It feels like a prison”.

Future wishes

Mona wishes to participate in an international marathon while Rita asks for a peaceful and a happy world. A world where all people are equal. A world where a disability isn’t a barrier to following your passion, a world where persistence leads to  success.