My name is Shai Reller
I am 37 years old and I live in the semi-rural community of Nordia, in Israel. So where do I begin introducing myself to you? On the face of it a strange question considering the seemingly obvious answer – “at the beginning”, so that no chronological fractures occur. But what does one do when life is split into two distinct periods, in diametrical opposition, yet with the first having such a strong influence on the second? I have chosen to start with “My Second Period of Life”
The year was 2004 and I was 24 years old. Upon completion of five years of service as an officer in the Israel Defence Forces I embarked on what was planned as a long backpacking trip to the Far East. During this trip the bus I was riding in rolled down an abyss. I survived this accident and become almost totally paralyzed from the neck down and since that time I am confined to a wheelchair.
And here I return my story abruptly to my earlier life……
I arrived in this world 37 years ago – I grew up in the seaside resort of Natanya and I spent many hours of my youth on the marvelous beach of that city. That time of life was rich with the pleasant experiences of a regular guy, and I made many plans and weaved many dreams for the future. And then the army, and then ……well you know.
The accident and my injuries changed my life from one extreme to the other, yet I decided that I would do all I can to realize my plans despite the obstacles. I studied economics and management at university, graduating with distinction. I work as an analyst with a communications company, and I have recently completed my master’s degree in business management, again with distinction.
I work as a volunteer for “Green Light” where I meet with youth groups and discuss with them the issue of road safety in an effort to raise their awareness of the subject.
In addition to this I participate in initiatives designed to improve the quality of life for people who are physically handicapped.
I believe that for everything that happens there is a reason, and that is how this lecture – “To the Abyss and back” was born. My need and desire is to make people aware of the obstacles and hardships of people in a position comparable to mine , and to demonstrate through this example, how it is possible to overcome difficulties of life in general by focusing on the positive .
I consider myself privileged to be able to address this forum and I have hope that I may improve, by however little, the feeling of life and the outlook of those faced with difficulties and obstacles.