Anja Moerstedt had to learn to give her body more time: She fell ill with a rare genetic defect from one day to another. But the 45-year-old from Emden remained positive. Through her limitation, she found her mission: to draw attention to discrimination. What moves her and why the way she was educated is important for her life today, she tells us at REHACARE.com.
Name: Anja Moerstedt Age: 45 City: Emden, Germany Occupation: Retired Impairment: I need my wheelchair to get around! I have a rare genetic neurological disorder!
Anja Moerstedt: Moments ago, I laughed about something my daughter did! I laugh at her jokes several times a day!! My child’s happiness and joy have helped me through the tough times!
What have you always been wanting to do and why have you never done this so far?
Anja Moerstedt: Skydiving and bungee jumping! Unfortunately, I am no longer able to do either of them! Paragliding might be an alternative. Please contact me, if you know of anyone that offers this for people with disabilities! I have tried canoeing this summer.
Which person has influenced you most? And why?
Anja Moerstedt: My parents! My siblings and I were raised to compete with each other! I typically had to fight for everything! Love and affection were rare! I had to learn early on to stand up for myself to stay afloat, to fight bit by bit and persevere and learn to distinguish right from wrong! This was incredibly difficult for me in my younger days. My willpower and to rely on myself were and are a great foundation for my future life! I tirelessly fight any hurdle I have to face!
"The German Federal Participation Act (BTHG) is still in its infancy," says Anja Moerstedt and she is not alone with this opinion. But there are other grievances that she wants to draw attention to, not only in dealing with people with disabilities.
You have the chance to become the Commissioner for the Disabled in your country. What would you do first?
Anja Moerstedt: To ensure accessibility in absolutely all areas and for all disabilities! Full participation for all individuals with disabilities. Honest equality! Not just talk! The German Federal Participation Act (BTHG) is still in its infancy.
What is it, that is most important to you?
Anja Moerstedt: My family of course! My children, my husband and my best friend, who always support and care for me! Who always drive me anywhere and get my hot-water bottle when I have cramps!
And of course my favorite topic! To fight racism and discrimination!
Courts must adapt legislation and trials for people with disabilities. For example, when you are asked to be a witness and testify, as was the case in an assault case pertaining to me and my family.
First you can’t enter the building despite summons and verbal agreement, then diagnoses are publicized and in the end, you don’t get enough time to give your testimony! As a person with a disability, I was treated like I was the offender! The actual offender was subsequently released due to a lack of evidence despite a medical-legal evaluation, investigation and medical report (also for the benefit of the court to be considerate and aware of my restrictions)! If the court would have better addressed my disability, the offender would at least have been fined. Standard procedures need to radically change! He would have been penalized in Berlin or Frankfurt, but this small town is 20 years behind the times when it comes to acceptance! This is a scandal and illustrates exclusion of people with disabilities.
I have many other topics on my list but there isn’t enough space or time.
I would like to be ...
Anja Moerstedt: the President of Germany, so I can pass precisely those bills! Tougher penalties for discrimination, exclusion, bullying, and stalking. This is long overdue and needs to be unequivocally resolved.
Which questions would you like answered the most?
Anja Moerstedt: When will we finally have affordable, accessible housing, so that I don’t have to struggle to come down from the first floor and then make my way up again every day?
Why do even housing cooperatives increase their prices, even though they are supposed to be nonprofit? Why do cooperatives often don’t pay attention to people with disabilities and their special living arrangements?
Why do some people have such a hard time dealing with people that don’t measure up to standards? Who dictates these standards anyway?
Why are people with disabilities not better protected?
What else I wanted to say...
Anja Moerstedt: We all have one life and we should live it consciously! It is so much easier to be tolerant than being intolerant!