Phillip Eling was born in Australia 30 years ago with muscular dystrophy, a disease that causes progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass. So from the age of five, he had to use a wheelchair.
Fast forward to 2012 when Phillip published his first book, Life Is What You Make It. On Page 74 is a quote by him predicting that someone would love him wholeheartedly?
Then, in dream-come-true fashion, one Susan Njogu walked into the company he was working for in January 2017.
Born and raised in Elburgon, Nakuru County, Susan had moved to Adelaide, Australia, two years earlier for studies.
Having got a diploma in working with the disabled, she was invited for a job interview at the company where Philip worked.
“Ours is a story of love at first sight. Nothing about him bothered me, especially because I had related with many disabled people while studying,” Susan says.
They talked for a while and exchanged contacts. Shortly afterwards, they went on their first date.
“He invited me out for coffee, and you can imagine my surprise when I found his mother sitting with him. She was also part of our meeting. I was a bit nervous at first, but it turned out great,” she recalls, laughing.
That was the beginning of their whirlwind romance, which resulted in their engagement exactly six months later.
“We both knew what we wanted, so there was no doubt about that. We wanted to spend the rest of our lives together,” she says.
“She understood that I had to convince them (Susan’s parents), especially since Africans are usually not as open-minded. I only wanted their approval, above anything else,” Philip offers.
“They gave me their blessings at once. They were completely alright with our decision, and especially because they knew how passionate I was about helping the disabled. I was ecstatic,” Susan adds.
And so Susan became Mrs Eling on January 27, 2018 in a red-themed garden wedding in Adelaide, marking the beginning of their life as a couple.
By then, Phillip had got a job at the National Disability Insurance Scheme as an area coordinator.
Their wedding went viral on social media, and as much as it inspired and gave hope to many, critics said some nasty things about their union.
“People said I only did it because I wanted to get money from him, but I sort of expected that reaction from them. I was very relaxed and prepared for it. I got comfort from knowing that our union was ordained by God.”
Saying that she owed no one anything, Susan didn’t bother responding to the negative comments. And although the trolls are still there, she has learnt to live with the mean comments.
It has since been a year and a few weeks since the wedding, and the now Mrs Eling describes their marriage so far as fantastic.
“I have had the most memorable moments of my life. God has always been on our side. Just as we have plans and goals together, we also have ups and downs like any other couple. But the most important thing is that we always lift each other up,” she says emotionally, her eyes brimming with tears.
“Phillip takes care of me like any other husband would, and I take care of him too. People always assume that I am the one who takes care of him.”
Their future plans? “We are still working on building ourselves, especially our skills, because we would want to move back to Kenya and run an organisation that helps the disabled,” she says.
(All East Africa)