Despite being born without legs, 24-year-old Selma Puric, from Travnik, managed to complete her degree in architecture and now frequently trains in a gym in Sarajevo and her determination and positive outlook serves as a motivation to other disabled people to get engaged and not give up hope.
Anadolu Agency journalists spoke to Selma during one of her training sessions in Sarajevo. With a smile on her face and full of optimism, she said she does not find it difficult to travel to the capital since her will to train is stronger than any obstacles.
“During my mother's pregnancy, everything was fine, the doctors said so, that the baby was healthy. However, I was born without both legs. Doctors never even found out why this happened. Everyone attributed it to the war and the stress,” she explained, adding that she first used prostheses at age five.
She said she does not remember much from that time but that it was certainly difficult.
“I was a naughty child. I tried everything I wanted to do. I kept trying until I saw that I couldn’t really do it. It’s always been hard for me in a way because my peers do some things together that I can’t. At that time, I didn't understand that maybe there are some things I can do which they can not,” she said.
She explained that she always tried to find some way to overcome obstacles and decided to train in the gym during the lock-down due to the coronavirus.
“I have been mobile all my life. I always trained at home, but it was never professional, nor did I have any supervision while doing those exercises. I would always find some exercises online and do them. All my life I carry my weight on crutches and that has been some kind of training,” she said.
Selma reached out to professional trainer Nedim Babic late last year and decided to train with him.
She explained that the reason was that she gained some weight and that this could be dangerous for her because of her condition.
Another reason was that she did not move enough during the lockdown.
“My muscles started to weaken and that is why I decided to get moving and do something for myself, so I don’t turn into someone who will not be able to wear these prostheses in the future which allow me to do some basic things,” she said.
She said that her story served as an inspiration for many other disabled people and motivated them to also get engaged and do something for themselves.
“A lot of people came forward, most said I got them thinking, and there are those who began doing the same thing as me after seeing my story and after seeing me fight,” she said, explaining that it is a different experience for those who were born with a certain condition and those who became disabled at some point in their life.
“I was born with it, I grew up that way and all my life I was treated as a person with a disability. It was never a problem for me,” she said.
Selma explained that she never felt desperate and that the reason for that was that she grew up in a healthy environment.
She said that there were some difficult situations, such as a kindergarten rejecting her because of her disability, but there were other people who would do anything to make her feel like everyone else.
“I have always been a person who will find some good and positive in something bad,” she said.
Her trainer, Nedim Babic, explained that he met Selma via social media.
“She reached out to me after one of my speeches. I like to give motivational speeches. She reached out with a desire to meet me and so I give her advice for her physical fitness, given her disability. At that moment, I felt a lot of positive energy and inspiration and said that it would be good if we could meet,” Babic said.
The two met the following week.
“I told her that she is not a person who should remain closed in one circle, but that she should go public and motivate not only those who have deformities but all people who think they have some problems in their lives,” Babic said.
He pointed out that Selma has not had the opportunity to learn to walk with proper prostheses since early childhood as they are expensive.
So the two decided to start raising money to purchase such them, but stressed that this is not a humanitarian action as “Selma does not need charity, but she is a huge inspiration.”
“I told her: ‘You motivate people to train, and they pay ten euros or whatever amount for that motivation and training at that moment’,” he said.