Salomea’s determination to create a normal life for herself and her children has become a model for other people who became disabled as adults, Akhmeteli adds.
“When I stood in front of a mirror, naked and when my soul open, I found what I was looking for: a strong belief to love myself again and a strong will to redefine how society defines a person with a disability,” Salomea says.
But she found that even as she was overcoming her own fears and learning to overcome her limitations, others were not.
“No matter how empowered and motivated I feel, the outside world still considers my disability as the inability to fulfill certain tasks or functions. People have set their prejudices on what I can do and what not,” she says.
For instance, once she applied for a job, and her prospective employers found out about her amputation “they went quiet.” “I wrote to them on Facebook and expressed my concerns about them being possibly discriminatory toward me. Despite of the fact that they said it was not discrimination, as a member of the staff was promoted to take the job– I knew that I was not hired because I had a disability,” Salomea remembers.
“Later they offered to find a ‘suitable position’ for me, so that I would not be overloaded with work. Their attitude of judging my abilities to fulfill tasks made me furious and I lost motivation to talk to them again.”
She refused to give up, however.
Today Salomea is a successful actress at the Tbilisi Inclusive Dance Company as well as vice-president at the Georgian Para-Taekwondo Federation. She also studies full-time at the International Association of Coaching and Speakers. This year she was a speaker at A-spire, a TedX-inspired event for young women with disabilities. She also recently married a man who believes in her ability to create her own path to happiness.
“You should always remember to remain fierce and have enough courage to face something that had been scaring you the most. In fact, after confronting your biggest fear personally, you discover that, in reality, that specific fear of yours is not as great as you had believed.”