Vanessa Haarhoff grew up in Zimbabwe but it was while studying for a BSc in Human Movement Sciences in South Africa that she suffered a spinal injury, resulting in tetraplegia. During rehabilitation in a South African spinal unit Vanessa began to paint by holding a brush in her mouth. Her efforts were submitted to the Mouth & Foot Painting Artists who accepted Vanessa as a Student Artist. After relocating to the UK Vanessa continued her studies, changing courses to study journalism, and became involved with the British Mouth & Foot Painting Artists.
Vanessa recently took part in a fund raising event for the charity Back Up, which enables spinally injured people to take part in sports that they thought were no longer available to them.
Vanessa assembled a fifteen strong team and together they pushed and pulled her to the summit of Mount Snowdon. The experience, severely hampered by dreadful conditions, made Vanessa aware of the scope there is for raising awareness and financial support for spinally injured people in impoverished countries, especially Zimbabwe, where the overriding concerns are access to health care and wheelchairs. She says ‘I class myself as one of the lucky unlucky ones as I am able to live in a country with such amazing support networks and resources, to assist people who have challenging obstacles to overcome.’