Iskra – The dreamer
A GIRLS FROM MACEDONIA SIMPLY WANTS TO STAND UP
by Temjana Popovska
“I want to stand with my arms spread in the cornfield“. Iskra Doneva a girl from Skopje, leads an uncommon life for a person with disabilities. All the intimacy that shines through her poetry gives you a gist of all the things that she would want to be her real life.
Imagining the true freedom and liberty that the birds have, Iskra daydreams about lightness of movement. She says her main goal in life is exactly that careless freedom that she has not felt in these 29 years of existence. Born prematurely, a loss of oxygen during several minutes in the incubator causes lasting consequences; Iskra was diagnosed with cerebral paralysis, and cannot walk.
As firefighters need ladders to carry out their work, she needs wheelchairs, wheel walkers and crutches. This is her picturesque way to portray her condition: “I don’t like the term `people with special needs`, I prefer the term people with barriers, because we don’t need special treatment just a chance to do everything like everybody else”, is a model Iskra advocates for. She always demanded to be treated equally because she never wanted to be singled out.
Her illness causes dysfunction of the locomotor system. Even from an early age she had difficulties to keep the body upright until the first operation which she faced at the age of 6. In the next two years she was operated nine times, but she still considers her childhood to be wonderful. As she says, she did not feel deprived of any children’s game, because her parents raised her in the spirit of seeing beyond physical condition. Thanks to her will and desire, she is always open to share experiences, and the people around her unselfishly extend their hands. Her whole life her parents generously provided her with the assistance in everyday activities, but in March 2012 her father passed away. From then on her mother suffers from a severe heart disease.
Iskra never allowed architectural barriers to be her obstacle. If there is a will, a solution can be found. In terms of urban planning in Skopje, she explains that in recent years there has been enormous progress, putting ramps and elevators in institutions. But still lots of things need to be done in order to make the city accessible for disabled people. The building in which Iskra lives in has no lift, but even this she sees as a challenge. The stairs in her building keep her in shape and help her stay healthy.
Iskra obtained her bachelor degree in comparative literature and was really pleased with the conditions at her faculty in Skopje, even though they were not always perfect: “In those situations when the lift broke down, my colleagues were my vehicle. They would carry me by their hands and I was on the second floor in no time.”
“People see their disability as a way to find other spiritual values that will help them to overcome it all”, says Iskra. She explored her spirit into depth by writing poetry, which made her a fierce fighter, whose perseverance, patience and dedicated effort achieves every goal. She is firmly determined to achieve her dreams, to stand on her own feet, to fulfill her ambitions as an artist and one day to have her own family. So she says “I would never change my position and who I am with anybody else in this entire world”.