I was not believing in myself…
But I made it with a seven-kilo metal leg. I would like to talk to you about my success story.
I learned pretty late that Pi Youth Association was on of the most active organizations in our country in the field of Erasmus Plus programs and youth’s rights and issues.
There are more than 20 milion young people between 15-29 years old, which, compared to the number of young people from the EU countries, is very big. Together with this, Erasmus Plus is a program that is being applied in our country for many years and is being thought as an opportunity for the active university students, young people to develop themselves. Still, there are also programs and projects to which young people that don’t speak foreing languages can apply as well.
Pi Youth Association is working on creating opportunities not only for a certain part of Turkey’s young people (there are still so many of them who don’t know anything about this kind of activities), but also for young people with disabilities. Programs like Youth Exchange, Training Course or European Voluntary Service are available for them as well and Pi Youth Association are offering them opportunities to take part in this kind of projects as well, which is thanks to the Municipality of Karşıyaka for their support and for working together with Pi Youth Association. This association is reaching those young people that suffer from physical issues, or to those who don’t have finacial possibilities in their living area with the support of municipality. As a young person who benefited from the scholarship offer by the Municipality of Karşıyaka in the project “Sprouts of Karşıyaka”, they called me from the municipality and asked me if I wanted to participate into a one month project in Greece. When I first heard this, I immediatly thought about my physical disability and I saw it as an obstacle, but, still, I accepted their proposal for a first meeting. Afterwards, the person I was speaking to on the phone guided me to Pi Youth Association and I got all the information needed from them. After seeing all their (Pi Youth Association) efforts to help me, to describe me and to tell me about all the fine details about this project I accepted to participate to the project and we started to prepare the documents.
After everything was completed, I arrived on Athena airport on 1st of May, in the night. Here we are, three young people from Turkey: Canberk, Deniz and me. I was the only one among them who was traveling abroad for the first time. I was too excited. We had to spend the first night in the airport, because my luggage was lost and there was no one working on that sector as it was 1st of May, which led to us living a small crisis. Thanks to my friends that were beside me in those difficult times we managed to get to the place where we were going to live: Xylókastro. When we reached our house, my foot got inflammed because of the prosthesis. So… all the mishaps were finding me at that moment. I wanted to go back to my home, in Turkey. I was crying like a child and I was about to quit. But I decided to give myself a chance more, only for the people that were believing in me. But I then realised that the real problems were inside me, it was not my foot who was hurting, but my helpless inner – Ozan.
In the first night at the new home, I met with my housemates from France. It was for the first time in my life when I was so close to people from another culture. I was so happy that I even forgot about my foot pain. My inflammation was decreasing as my confidence in myself was increasing. I went to the doctor together with the coordinatior from Orfeas Organization, which was responsible for us, and the doctor loved me so much, that I didn’t even need to pay for the consultation. My English was very poor and I was not speaking Greek as well. I could only understand with my energy and my warrior spirit. I realised one thing – I was growing stronger. I started my first day at work in a very serious way. And then I said to myself like: “Why am I so serious? I am in Europe and I should have fun!”.
I washed myself my own clothes, I hanged them and then I started to work. I was working in the same manner with the my other collegues, as if I didn’t even have a prosthesis and this was an amazing feeling. Being able to manage some things by myself was truly satisfying. After a while, my English and even my Greek have both improved incredibly. I became able to talk to anyone without any problem. Apart from this, I was also learning French at home, thanks to my French housemates. As time was passing, Orfeas Organization started to implement the projects that we were working on.
Almost half of a month was gone and time was passing really fast. I was talking to so many people, that everyone was like Turks to me. I made so many friends. Our volunteering duties were truly fun and simple. As volunteers, we were working happily and we had the possibility to take a brake anytime we wanted, so it was not being tiring. We were cleaning the streets and the beach. And, while cleaning the beach I saw a dolphin for the first time in my life.
When finishing my working day in Xylókastro I used to visit the town and everyone was saluting me. As it was a small city, everyone living there got to know me pretty quickly and they were offering me coffee. It was just amazing. I became the hero of Xylókastro with a metal prosthetic leg. Greek people were truly kind hearted. I was living a happy life, away from everything.
20 days passed and I still couldn’t understand how time has gone. I was continuously having fun with Canberk and Deniz and, in order for our foreing languages to improve, we were talking to our new friends. We became a family.
One month was about to end and I started to feel myself sad; I didn’t want to leave the project. I wanted to continue living there even though my mission there was coming to an end. But our project finished. When I arrived back on Turkey I laughed really hard and I said: Yes, yes, yes. I did it!
I want to tell you an important thing. If I had given up that day, I would have missed all the beautiful things that happened to me in that month in the project in Greece. Fortunately, I didn’t quit. If I had given up that day, I would have been Ozan in depression now, but now I am Ozan that is appreciated by everyone. I now know very well that people with disabilites are not disabled. Don’t stop, discover, explore… “I came, I saw, I conquered”. I came to Greece, I saw other cultures and I conquered the weak Ozan.
The world is bigger than our disability!
We need to give a chance to us and to the world!
I would like to thank Pi Youth Association, Municipality of Karşıyaka and Orfeas Organization for their support.
Thank you very much, dear Canberk, Miss Begüm, Deniz, Spyros, Colin, Tabae, Roman, Melyna, Eliana and thank you very much everyone who helped me in this experience.
Mr. Ozan Kaan Çevik
AGH-75 Greece Volunteer