Disabled Iranian smiles at life

Tehran, May 4, IRNA - Zohreh Etezad Saltaneh, 49, was born with a birth defect that stunted the growth of her arms.

She received early education at a special school. Noticing her diligence and talent, she was enrolled at an ordinary guidance school.
Despite all difficulties, she continued her education and earned a master’s degree in psychology, Tehran-based English newspaper Iran Daily reported.
'With the help of my family members, I have learnt to smile at life. I am ready to teach others what I know so that they could also smile at life,' she said.
Living in a small apartment in northern Tehran with her 85-year old mother, Saltaneh does her daily chores with great ease using her feet as she cleans the house, cooks and looks after her elderly mother.
'I have no problems. With practice, I can even carry out tasks better than normal people and get a sense of pride,' she said.
It did not take long for the Tehran-born painter to come to terms with her disability. She considers herself no different from other women and has gained recognition for her artwork.
“My slogan has always been: 'being disabled does not mean being restricted',' she said sitting next to a painting she is working on.
'Now I have come to terms with this issue. Sometimes when I'm working, I don't necessarily think 'these' are my feet, or that I don't actually have any hands.'
From an early age, Saltaneh's mother placed a paint brush between her daughter's toes, encouraging her to express herself artistically.
'Despite whatever restrictions one may have, it is possible to undertake new skills and to learn anything that one wishes. That is why the idea came to me to enhance my talents,' she said.
Despite her disability, she has attracted attention for her art, receiving a number of awards while her paintings have been shown in around 60 exhibitions around the world.
And her artistic talent does not stop at painting. Saltaneh also weaves Persian carpets using her toes, which she hopes to showcase at cultural fairs in the Iranian capital.
Saltaneh also dabbles in calligraphy and plays ping-pong.
'I wished to participate in the Paralympics games but I did not receive much attention by officials,” she said.
Saltaneh has learnt long back to not sit and grumble. She has not let her disability stop her from doing what she wanted.
She does the housework chores as well as any normal person.
Asked to state her philosophy of life, Saltaneh said, 'I believe difficulties make people more valuable.'
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