Keti Kamadadze, 21, Batumi

“I had an unsuccessful surgery on my leg and I am still suffering from the consequences…

From the start, I did not face any barriers either at college or at school. It’s just that my friends could not hide surprise for the first few seconds on seeing me like that. Since then, they have never hinted that I am different and I should not hang out with them. I graduated from college with honors, and I’m now working as a hotel administrator, I even travelled to Estonia as part of an exchange program in my college. I am employed in my line of work, I am an assistant administrator in a hotel in Batumi. I have great coworkers and they have never treated me differently or created any barriers for me. They never tell me: “Keti, you can’t do that. Just give up.”

In my family, neither my mother, nor anyone else has shared the attitude that I should not be doing anything because I have a disability. On the contrary, they push me to go there and do it… Nobody walks me around holding my hand. I went to college independently and I travel abroad on my own. This is how I was brought up.

My prosthesis is old now and walking has become a little more uncomfortable. What I dislike most of all, is when I’m asked “What’s wrong with you?” But do you know what it feels like to have a new prosthesis? It’s like having a new shoe on. Walking is suddenly convenient and you like youself more. This is exactly how it feels.

The only challenge that I still have is going outside. Leaving home every blessed day to have people in the neighborhood or on a bus peek at my leg. I have lived like this for 13 years and I have learned to neglect them, besides I have realized that it is a problem of awareness. They don’t realize that showing sympathy like this is wrong. Sometimes, I have to look back with a stern face to let them know that they have to stop doing that. But I cannot explain this to every passer-by, can I? At times, when I have to pass the street where a group of people is sitting, it is like walking the corridor of shame. They look me up and down not because they want to see my face or hair color but no, their gaze immediately travel to my leg. Their faces read “How is she even walking?!” and this is a great inconvenience. When I get on public transport, I never ask anyone to stand up and let me sit down. By no means! If I am not especially exhausted or sick, I don’t need anyone to give up their seat for me. When an old man volunteers to give their seat to me, how can I sit there?! Yes, that happens too.

My doctor did me a big favor by telling me not to carry the crutch. “If you fall, you can always stand up”, the doctor told me. When I went to school (I was in my second year then), I leant the crutch against the wall and I have never used it since. My school, the doctors and my family supported me in overcoming and getting rid of my sense of inferiority.

I want to travel very much. It is my childhood dream to go to India. I am very interested in their life, their traditions. Yes, they have many problems but I like their different outlook on life. I dream to one day just sit down and watch their rituals, be it wedding or anything else. And I hope to make this dream come true some day.”