"A Barrier-free Life" Melissa Fleming interviews Eddie Ndopu (Disability Activist and SDG Advocate)

“I think disability reminds people that actually, imperfection is more intrinsic to all of us than perfection is.”

Eddie Ndopu is an award-winning disability activist from South Africa and is one of 17 United Nations advocates for the Sustainable Development Goals. Diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a rare degenerative condition, and given only five years to live, he is now 30 and has dedicated his life to ensure that the voices of those at greatest risk of being left behind are being amplified and heard worldwide.

“When I could no longer pursue the dream of being an artist because my hands became too weak to hold a pencil, I needed to dream, a new dream, and I realized that that is, in itself, a gift to be able to sort of pivot and change direction and ask yourself, what else? That I still have my spirit. I still have my mind and I still have a deep desire and yearning for an extraordinary life. And I still want to be of service to humanity and the world.”

During this inspiring episode, Eddie recounts the difficult daily challenges he has faced throughout his life, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how his mother, “the wind beneath his sails”, sacrificed so much to make his life possible. He also talks about his big dream: to be the first physically disabled person in outer space and to address the United Nations from there.

Eddie’s heartwarming story and courageous spirit are proof of his belief that everybody should be afforded the opportunity to dream and become everything that their imagination desires.

Screen-shot photo credit: ©Humanity and Inclusion