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Maria Shriver

Inspired By Turia Pitt

Turia Pitt.
Turia Pitt. Jamie North

It was nearly three years ago that Turia Pitt, now 26, set off on an ultramarathon in Western Australia. Caught in a bushfire, the young mining engineer suffered life-threatening burns across more than 60% of her body. That she survived was a miracle, but it was the spirit that she showed in her recovery, the sheer determination, gutsiness and grit, which inspired not only her countrymen and women, but countless others around the world.

Here, the published author, surfer, motivational speaker and July cover star of the Australian Women’s Weekly, shares powerful moments of insight, gratitude, and connection.

I read…“The Map That Changed the World” by Simon Winchester. It’s about an English geologist William Smith and his great achievement, the first geological map of England and Wales. This book cemented my love of rocks and geology and was one of the reasons I became a mining engineer.

I saw…An old man fall over whilst crossing a busy street in Sydney. Passersby rushed to his aid, and I was so touched by the example of humanity I had witnessed. It gave me faith in humankind and for the future. As Anne Frank said, "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are truly good at heart."

I visited…The Great Wall of China and was completely unprepared by it’s vastness: an expansion continuing to the horizon (despite it’s size, the misconception about it being visible from space is exactly that – a misconception!) I travelled there with a group of twenty women. Talking to the women and learning about their lives reinforced to me that all of us have a story.

I experienced…Being overwhelmingly grateful when I visited the Burns Unit in Vientiane (Laos). The injuries I saw were horrific and confronting because the people did not have access to medical care (like I have had in Australia). This year a team of women and I have managed to raise $200,000 for Interplast – the charity that visits countries like Laos to provide free surgery.

I met…I would love to meet either Jane Goodall or Aung San Suu Kyi. Both are strong women who have fought for what they believe in. Goodall’s research on chimpanzees indicated that they have emotions, minds and personalities – something which earned her much criticism amongst her peers. It was an idea before its time. Suu Kyi spoke out about the (then) dictator of Myanmar, and as a result spent the better part of the next two decades under house arrest. Her efforts won her the Nobel Peace Prize.

I heard…The sound of the raging inferno as it moved towards me. Sends shivers down my spine just contemplating it. It’s very much a sound I never want to hear again.

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