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January 22nd 1998




Faruk Šabanovic

CNN Newsroom, Monday, Feb. 26, 1996

The promise of peace does not end the fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina. For many people, the fighting can never stop -- For to stop, is to give up on life.
Rob Reynolds explains.

A sniper's bullet paralyzed his body. Left him bound to a wheelchair for life. But 21-year-old Faruk Šabanovic won't stop fighting. "I always say I'm not a paraplegic. I'm an intellectual and an ex-smoker."

The 3rd of March, 1995. The day Faruk's life changed forever. "They shot me. I don't know from where. I don't know who, it doesn't matter. I can't know."

Faruk was rushed to a hospital. Doctors saved his life, but the bullet had severed his spinal cord, paralyzing him from the chest down. His picture was published worldwide. And saw, by chance, by spinal cord specialist D. Jean-Pierre Farcy in New York.

Farcy arranged for Faruk to come to New York for treatment, but found his condition was irreversible. "To motivate him to accept. To have independence of his mind rather than through his legs, to accept the paralysis, that is all that I could do for him because it was something that was beyond medical possibility."

The realization that he would never walk again hit Faruk hard. "When they told me this wheelchair is my destiny it was real hard. That was the hardest moment, that day."

But Faruk never gave up. He went to an American rehabilitation clinic. What he saw there gave him fresh hope. "When I saw what people in wheelchairs can do, and how they organized their lives in peace, and in a normal situation, then, I began to fight, actually, for me, for my life. Because I realized life is not just walking."

Back in Sarajevo, Faruk realized that Bosnian doctors knew little about the latest rehabilitation techniques for paraplegics. "They need knowledge, they need instructions."

Looking ahead to the future, Faruk plans to start a foundation to help hundreds of Bosnia's paralyzed during the war. "We will try to have a program which will include all of us and which will give us job."

To make that possible Faruk says he only needs a couple of computers, an e-mail link, and a printer. But those things cost money. "It's not some big money, actually. It's not big money. It's just computer stuff. And I think that we can have it."

Finding money is a small matter compared to what Faruk has to face, and overcome, each and every day. "If you're not active you're going to die. I want to live. And I saw that I can live like everybody else. I just can't go up stairs, but I can live."

Bob Reynolds, CNN, Sarajevo.

Center for Self-reliance----Faruk Šabanovic

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