My hope file is bulging so I swore I wouldn’t write about another talent show hopeful for a while, but that was before my friend Judith sent the video about Emmanuel Kelly’s audition for Australia’s X Factor. After watching it, I’m sitting here in a puddle of tears.
Emmanuel is a handsome young man, with a fine voice and the confidence to use it. He and his brother were born in war-torn Iraq. They were victims of chemical warfare, born without fully formed arms or legs. Nuns found the two boys in a shoe box in a Baghdad Park and brought them to an orphanage.
The woman who was to become their mother met the boys in the orphanage and brought them to Australia for surgery. Thanks to her love and strength and to their own vibrant natures, they have grown up with a sense of possibility rather than limitations.
So on the night of the X Factor audition, Emmanuel was nervous but eager. The judges’ surprise at seeing his disfigured body showed in their eyes. When he began to sing John Lennon’s “Imagine”, the surprise turned to admiration, the same emotion that brought the audience to its feet. Now Emmanuel goes on to “boot camp” and the possibility of realizing his dream of becoming a professional singer.
Whatever happens next, Emmanuel Kelly has won the hearts of Australians and anyone else who has watched the audition.
I suspect another mother’s eyes brimmed with tears as she watched Emmanuel. Judith and Emmanuel’s mother both fell in love with children in orphanages, boys who faced years of medical procedures. Thanks to their fierce determination, both mothers have raised fine young men whose courage, intelligence and spirit is a gift to the world.