Personality. Equal mark

Regional news
17.10.2018 07:01
When I offered Eduard Kluisha to meet so that I could write some material about him, the boy was in doubt: «Is it worth writing about me again? I mean I have been written about several times. Moreover I am a modest guy».


Believe me, there isn’t any falsehood in Eduard’s words, I’m absolutely sure. But you be the judge: how can we not write about the resident of Smorgon who has become the laureate of international photo contests twice? Besides, he is acquainted with supermodel Natalia Vodyanova. He is a 22-year-old boy who acted as the voice of the youth in Geneva. It happened at the regional conference of the United Nations European Economic Association “The variants of choice: population changes and sustainable growth”, which was held on the 1st-2nd of October.

The representatives of 40 countries came to Geneva. Ambassadors, diplomats, ministers  (the representative of Belarus - Minister of labor and social protection of the population Irina Kostevich), and public figures such as Eduard. By the way, he was an only wheelchair user among the participants of the conference.

Taste of Swiss chocolate

…In two days after the conference we sit in the kitchen with Eduard and drink tea with Swiss chocolate «Tasty chocolate, - I say, - but I also like Belarusian chocolate». And all of a sudden the boy continues the theme: «For some reason we often idealize foreign countries as if everything was better there. But having visited Geneva I understood that not all is ideal there. Every country has their drawbacks and benefits».

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We didn’t discuss the drawbacks and benefits of Switzerland in detail. Eduard just mentioned that in a progressive Geneva he, a wheelchair user, faced coping with barrier-free environment. He couldn’t have passed a steep hill downwards and have got on the train from the airport by himself if there hadn’t been his dad who had to drag the wheelchair on the stairs because the train didn’t have a stairlift.

The guy is dreaming to be able to do everything without exterior help wherever he goes: in Belarus and abroad. He says about the equal opportunity society where people are not divided into the handicapped and the heathy, where any person is given an opportunity to develop their strengths and their initiative is supported, where passers-by aren’t scared by wheelchair users and don’t regard them as something exotic.  

At the conference in Geneva Eduard spoke that all people including disabled ones have abilities for God blesses everybody. But so as to find and develop them all of us should build the  equal opportunity society. This is the task of those who write the laws, those who convey a message to the authorities and of course this is a task of young disabled people who should become a bit braver.  

Presumption  of adequacy

«There is such a term as presumption of adequacy. It means that a person is treated with regard to his abilities. I wish this term would work in relation to disabled people.  You see people often attach labels to the disabled and don’t expect much of them. The specialists themselves must believe in their paternalized, the parents must believe in their child too. My self-confidence is due to my family, I count myself lucky about having my parents and my elder brother. But a lot of other families need specialists’ help», - it’s a quotation from Eduard’s speech at the meeting with Natalia Vodyanova. This famous woman first visited Belarus in May. She in co-operation with the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) presented a social campaign #LetsTalkAboutIt.

The idea of participating in the event was offered Eduard by the management of the social union “Belarusian association of help to disabled children and youth”. Besides the resident of Smorgon, another two people presented the organization – Miss World -2017 in the wheelchair Alexandra Chichikova and Vasiliy Pavlikov, a boy with Down's syndrome who works as a waiter in the capital hotel “Renaissance”.

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Eduard told the audience that he tries to live up to his potential– about the photography club that he runs. He could bring his idea to life thanks to the project “Art for inclusion”.  The club was founded due to the project “Overcome all obstacles”, which was realized by Smorgon branch of the society of the disabled children and youth “Spark of Hope”. The club involves people of different ages, from 12 to 40 and more. There are not only disabled people. Everyone has fun there. And it doesn’t matter what diagnose you have.

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In 2014 Eduard studied in private school under the tutorial of famous capital photographer Yuriy Ilyuhin. Among the six pupils of the master Eduard was the first and the only wheelchair user. He really felt comfortable. There was no barrier environment.

At that particular meeting with Natalia Vodyanova the staff members of UNFPA noticed Eduard and in half a year they invited him to the conference in Geneva.

Go ahead! Contrary to conditions

- Upon signature of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Belarus I could feel that everything became more approachable, - noticed my talk partner. – There are comfortable wheelchair ramps, call buttons now.  And the situation is changing for the better. What is more important, much has been changed in people’s minds.

I remember 10 years ago my parents sometimes took me for a walk. When Smorgon’s residents saw a rather big boy in a wheelchair they wondered, turned round and even said something unpleasant towards me. Some of them were shocked, for there were not many wheelchair users in the streets. Nobody knew about our needs. But thanks to the government, social organizations, active social campaign disabled people don’t cause negative emotions any more. They are not afraid that somebody will offend or misunderstand them.

In Geneva at the end of his speech the guy appealed to the youth to be more active and promote their projects courageously. «Don’t be afraid. Set your goals, do your work well - and you’ll be noticed. I’m sure you’ll achieve everything, but maybe it’ll take some time», - perorated Eduard. It’s one of my talk partner’s fundamental premises.

During our conversation the boy admitted that it’s important to do all your best to be the worst among the best but not vice versa: to be the best among the worst. So and in no other way a person will never let stardom go to their head.

- I always look for people whose store of knowledge and experience is bigger than mine, - smiles Eduard, – so as to take a quantum leap of abstraction. To realize this, you should constantly rise above yourselves and work on yourselves a lot. Anyone can complain, it’s much more difficult to do something contrary to conditions.

Galina Antonova

Library photo of Eduard Kluisha

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