Dilek Elçiçek | Human Stories | Travel the world with us

Dilek Elçiçek

  • Dilek Elçiçek3 Stories

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Disabled but not really

Disabled but not really

My name is Ko Htwe. I am a 40-year-old single man. I am from Wama, Myanmar. I come from a big family, I have 7 siblings. Only the youngest and I are not married. I am living with my mother. I was born without arms, I am the only one from my family who has got a disability.

I make my living by drawing and painting. At first glance, people do not expect someone with a disability to be good at what he does. However, when they learn how much effort we make to improve our craftsmanship, they begin to respect and understand that we are exceptional at what we do.

I have had many great teachers throughout the years, my first teacher was my beloved father. He taught me how to draw, play with colors and integrate my imagination into everything I do. In the beginning, painting used to be just a hobby for me. After 25 years of drawing and painting, now I am proud to say that I am a painter.

During the tourism season, my sales go up; therefore, I make more money. I have no special dreams or plans for my future, I am happy as long as I make enough money for my mother and myself. Actually I am not planning to get married so that I can look after my mother just like she did when I was little.

Ko Htwe
Inle Lake, Myanmar, 20 January 2019

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A proud Cuban family business

My name is Alina Diaz Massino. I am 36 years old. I live in Havana, Cuba. I and my father make a living by running our own store, "MEMORIAS", where people can find all kinds of posters, magazines, art and music, crafts, etc.

I have a brother who is 3 years older than me. I take care of my niece and my nephew. I guess you could call it a big family.

I studied at the University of Havana. I was supposed to be a translator and interpreter, but I didn’t like it since it was too stressful for me. After my graduation, I taught at the university for 3 years (which was my mandatory social service), and after that, I left and started my own business. My brother didn’t want to take any part in it because he had other interests. The responsibility of carrying our family tradition and continuing my father’s work fell upon my shoulders.

Even though my country is a small island, we are known for having great painters and musicians, which makes our culture a very rich one. 

Our products appeal to a very specific group, so there are weeks when we sell nothing. The good side of our business is that we don’t have to invest in it every day. When we sell, it’s a plus, and when we don’t, our merchandise is still valuable. 

I wish for my family to always stay together.  I hope to see my son grow up and become a very successful person. I would love to see him continue our family business. I don’t have big ambitions; I just want to continue doing what makes me happy.

Alina Diaz Massino 
Havana, Cuba, 20 December 2018

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An everlasting visit to Zanzibar

My name is Frank. I am 70 years old. I live in Jambiani, Zanzibar. I moved here about 7 years ago and make a living by running my own guesthouse and restaurant called Cool Runnings.

My first visit to Zanzibar was 25 years ago. It all started when I volunteered in a wild life project on the mainland. Year after year, I went back and forth between Europe and Zanzibar, as I am from the Netherlands. Finally, it was 7 years ago when I came to this place, bought an old house, and rebuilt it and turned it into a small guesthouse with a restaurant. It was about 3 or 4 years ago when I met my lovely wife Jackline, who came here looking for a job. So now, I am living here permanently and doing a little business.

Living here in Zanzibar is completely different from where I came from originally. However, I never think of going back again. Home is here now. 

The majority of the people here in Zanzibar are very nice. They are always helpful, warm, welcoming, and kind. The funny thing is that nearly everyone here thinks that I am rich. Coming from a different culture and race, I sometimes find it hard to tell them that it was the riches and wealth that I actually ran away from.

At Cool Runnings, we always try our hardest to ensure that every single one of our visitors feel like they are at home, and at peace. That’s why we have done our best to renovate it in such a way that it is sincere and cozy, just as how I wanted it to be.

Zanzibar, 16 June 2018

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