August 13, 2013

The Power of Human Will

Nevena Lyubenova was one of the participants of the „Media4Change“ seminar for international group of joung journalists held on the 21st of June, 2013. The event tackled such topics as hate speech and representation of socially vulnerable groups and minoritines in media. Seminar enjoyed contributions from the representatives of often marginalized groups in society, who shared their experiences and views on the topic. The acquintance with one of them Viktoras Topol, inspired her to write this article.

“All of us, without exception, have unexpected physical capabilities. We are able to do a lot more, than we can imagine. And we can use all this potential, unlocking it. The key is in our mind.

By Nevena Lyubenova

Viktoras2It’s  been proved thousands of times. Now it’s been confirmed once again by the true story of the 21 years old Lithuanian Viktoras Topol – young man with a peculiar destiny, famous in his country – a European state, surprisingly similar to ours, with its high panel blocks of flats, public transport in the capital Vilnius and great human goodwill for change. His touching story is revealing a living example of the cliché “nothing’s impossible”, which, like many other clichés, is undeniably true.

Viktoras is born in the Lithuanian capital in 1992. As early as the third day of his birth he had to go through a complicated surgery of the spinal cord. The medical intervention didn’t go well. Important neurological connections were torn apart. It happened for the rest of his life.

“The doctors back then told my mother I’ll be lying on a bed whole my life. When my father understood, he refused paternal responsibility. He left the family immediately”, explained Viktoras in front of a public of young journalists and students, studying Journalism. He told us his story in Druskininkai, Southwestern Lithuania. He was a special guest of a seminar, organized by the Lithuanian organization Media4Change. Topics of the event were the problem with hate speech in media and discrimination in the informational sources in the European Union towards disabled people, ethnical groups and others, marginalized because of their identity or sufferings. Viktoras talked in front of audience, composed of Italians, Latvians, Spaniards, Englishmen, Serbians, Croatians, Bulgarians and in front of compatriots from the small Baltic country.

“Suddenly, when I was 3 years old, I started running around the table. Doctors were shocked of this progress. But afterwards the problems continued”, he told us.

“When I grew up I realized that as far as I remember myself as a person my life is nailed in frameworks. Everything was expected from me, or wasn’t expected… That motivated me to make my life cause the breaking of those frameworks”, continued the young man. He told the audience that when he was 11, his problems with the back got worse. “Even from the first day in school everybody was telling me I was different. But did this mean that I am worse than others? Afterwards I stopped visiting school and started studying at home. Closed between the walls I decided not to fulfill other people’s expectations. I realized that I will not work on a desk, answering telephone calls, because everybody else suggests that would be the kind of work I’ll be capable of doing. I became of age and started as an entrepreneur, followed my dreams. I devoted myself to helping other people in need to gain higher life quality. From the very beginning I’m using my arms, my back, but most of all my brain”, told us the young man who is still moving around in a wheel chair, but today is a sportist, lector, dancer, he feels an accomplished personality and justifies the desire for a faith of a winner, a man of victory, given him by birth.

Despite the immobility of his legs, Viktoras Topol is a world champion culturist in the category for people in wheelchair. He has long partnership with Lithuanian and European colleagues – sportists with fitness accomplishments, including people from the Bodybuilding association in Lithuania.

He had a dream, which seemed impossible to others for a person like him – to be a street dancer, a boy like all others that dances break. He succeeded in that sphere, too. Viktoras is a participant in the Lithuanian TV reality “Lithuania is Looking for Talent”, where he danced with his group of friends I.L.I. Crew. They succeed to impress the jury and the public with a special dance, appropriate to his wheelchair. “Naturally, in my condition it wasn’t easy, but I believed that it was not impossible. I was dreaming about something that everybody else could do”, added Viktoras.

He feels people with physical problems like him are often invisible in media. He says “disability is not in our legs. It’s not in our back. It’s only in our head”. And he underlines that “we think about our health only after we understand that we have a problem with it. When we become ill. Then we’re struck by a nervous condition – we want to get better immediately and go back to our previous condition, when we were capable to do all. Afterwards we quickly forget about the illness, instead of being grateful that we‘re healthy and take care of ourselves even when we don’t feel any pain.”

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