Lisa is a free spirit, with caring embedded in her bones, concepts beyond her years & ideas well above her current status. A new graduate in Social Work from Massey, the idea of joining a government agency both repelled her, based on her brief work experiences, but also sparked the germ of an idea to transform the sector. Bold? You bet. But she might just be the person to carry it through.
Lisa's lifestyle can easily be labelled 'modern hippy' but she may well be a woman of her time. The realisation that we are healthier & happier & certainly kinder to our environment and each other when we adopt 'alternative' practices is fast gaining traction. Of course, in our higgeldy piggedly world, alternative means out of the mainstream, whereas eating local, natural sustainable food, recycling & repurposing, and paying attention to the energies present in our environment & ourselves is just logical, isn't it?
Born in South Africa, Lisa's spirit was forged watching cripples & beggars on the main street & living with appalling inequality. I, too witnessed the slums and the full extent of human depravity at a young age in Africa & South-East Asia, so I have some inkling of where her compassion springs from. Her mother succumbed to breast cancer when Lisa was two, a tragedy. It feels almost as if Lisa has adopted & developed super strong maternal instincts that she wants to use on the world, to fill the void left by her mother's passing. However one explains it, she is an old soul in a young body..
Raised in New Zealand from the age of 5, Lisa has always confronted authority, questioned the status quo & rejected the automatic adoption of 'the normal'. This combined with her natural compassion has guided her life so far. Her father, a civil engineer, offered her the inspired choice for her to study Social Work, firming up her direction and purpose. Her experience of work placement soured her view of government run agencies ("the distribution of resources is f***ed" & they are now trying to "buy people's happiness") & she started to find her own way. Living in a holistic village & community for the past two years, Albany's Kawai Purapura, has allowed Lisa to examine her vision for her future path, and also explore her own feelings & motivations. In her words, she had "an awakening" there.
Now working with PHAB Lisa is beginning to forge her own views on how disabled youth can be helped to build life skills and emotional awareness, and it's not in regimented half-hour counselling sessions! Lisa is a performer & her natural energy & vivaciousness has rubbed off on some of her charges, so she has begun to see the benefits of expending co-ordinated physical energy. As she explains so eloquently in the video interview, connecting an active mind to an active body is vital in achieving life balance. Obvious, really, isn't it! So she is now taking things a step further forward, enrolling in a circus training school - the Dust Palace - to expand her knowledge & skills so she can pass that on. Not content with simply doing that, she is hatching plans for a full-blown disabled circus.
Given the deserved attention our paralympians have received this year, it seems that our society is nearly ready to recognise the valid contributions that disabled people can make. OK, it's easier to package up a pole vaulter or long jumper into something we all recognise, measured against familiar standards, but what Lisa is keen to stress is that while most of life is about energy exchange, people with different disabilities have different energies that come from different places & once we can allow those energies a true outlet, we will see disabled people flourish within our society.
Lisa is struggling with that age-old issue. If we are a compassionate race, how can we allow our most vulnerable to be cast aside, and how can we make redress? Sure, she is idealistic, but she is passionate, talented & most importantly, intelligent & street smart. It is hard to say no to someone so committed, so I hope she manages to exploit that, because if her dreams come true, they will affect many lives & hopefully our society, for the better. Purple truly represents her energy, her creative spirit, her life force, her individuality.
The video is Lisa talking about her life & some of her ambitions.
Auckland - October 2016