Joanne planning to bring hope on Asia trip

She’s already the talk of New York after telling a UN conference that being born without arms and legs won’t stop her one day leading an independent life.

But Joanne O’Riordan will soon embark on an even more inspiring trip when she travels to SouthEast Asia to meet another child born without limbs.

The 16-year-old, just one of seven people in the world to have total Amelia syndrome, is keen to share her motto of “no limbs, no limits”.

And this summer, the Cork girl is set to travel with brother Steven to a remote part of the Philippines to share her story with a 12-year-old boy who has the same condition, but who spent the first five years of his life locked in a shed after being shunned by the local community.

Steven, 28, a filmmaker, plans to record Joanne’s epic trip and meeting with the child, who is called Jesus, for a documentary he is making about his sister.

But he said the main goal of the trip would be to give Joanne the opportunity to give hope to a person whose upbringing has been far harder than hers.

“Joanne is very keen to meet Jesus and hopefully inspire him to believe in himself,” said Stephen.

“His circumstances are completely different and he’s not nearly as advanced as Joanne. When he was born the local people in the community thought there was a curse in his family and refused to accept him.

“We’ll look into the logistics of getting Joanne out there to meet him, but it’s in a very remote, rural area and if it proves too difficult to get her out there, at the very least I’ll head over myself and arrange for Jesus and Joanne to have a conversation by video link.”

Steven has secured an €8,000 development fund from the Irish Film Board for the documentary, which has a working title of No Limbs, No Limits, and which will follow his sister’s life for the next four months.

Following last week’s trip to New York, during which Joanne told 200 guests how technology had enhanced her life, he is already assured of great footage.

Joanne’s upbeat and witty keynote address to the UN’s International Telecommunications Union, which was watched by her parents Ann, 51, and Joe, 57, stole the show on Thursday.

But Joanne said the highlight of her week was her birthday celebrations last Tuesday, during which she was flown over the Manhattan skyline before getting VIP treatment in the Hard Rock Cafe.


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