Sustainable living: nurturing our relationship with nature and others – CIDSE

Sustainable living: nurturing our relationship with nature and others

© Madalena Meneses

In love with life and in search of freedom. At 25, Maria Meneses, a vibrant young woman from Portugal, discovered there is a word for what she was living: sustainability.

Due to severe birth complications, Maria was born with cerebral palsy. The doctors even asked her parents to say goodbye, but Maria’s strength to live was always changing the odds. At the end of her first, long, month in ICU (Intensive Care Unity), she went home. This is just one reason why she is extraordinary, since her first day.

Childbirth sequels, motor-only, do not bother her. “It’s my condition, I don’t know how to live without the palsy.” She calmly assumes her pace and, in fact, there is nothing that condition her: she surfs, she dreams so high that at 20 she threw herself from an airplane (having already done four parachute jumps), she is a theater actress (having already acted on national stages), among many other adventures.

She believes that sustainability is a part of us and that it is through small gestures, daily, that we can make a difference. It is in direct contact with nature that she reloads her batteries. “I like to go to the beach, going in a garden and listen to what is going on there, I need to feel the pulse of the Earth.” She also takes those moments to contemplate the world and learn how to take better care of it. This was how she awakened her self-care. She learned to respect herself, her times and her conditioning each day, although she deeply believes that she has no limits.

She did the normal academic course, in private education and later in public education, and always had a great deal of ease in making friends. That’s because what stands out most in Maria is her joy of living, with her very peculiar laughter, so contagious!

It was when she joined the CISV (Children International Summer Village) that she aroused interests and a passion for themes such as Sustainable Development, which is one of the four pillars of the organization. The main goal of the CISV is to educate children for peace, through activities that foster the spirit of cooperation, bringing together children from all over the world and from all cultures in order to know and respect each other.

Maria is someone who has always fought for her independence and who, therefore, counts on all her family and friends to celebrate with her all the achievements of her freedom. And this is how Maria challenges us: to nourish our relationships.

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