Ufuk Kocak is a fit, healthy young man who wants to live life to the full.

In a recent interview organized by Likya World Diving Centre at the

Sentido Resort Hotel, Ölüdeniz, he told Fethiye Times:

I like to scuba dive, free dive, climb mountains, canoe, play tennis,

cycle… I am just about to start walking the Lycian Way.

I’m the kind of person that’ll have a go at anything,

as long as it’s active and fun.

Dinghy sailing
Dinghy sailing

The unstoppable Ufuk

This is Ufuk’s tag line. It is clear from this how he sees himself.

All he questions is how you ‘see’ him.

At the age of 22 I was an active soldier in the Turkish army but

I had to have both his legs amputated above the knee

following injuries I received in the 1999 Istanbul earthquake.

The building I lived in collapsed, trapping me in it.

Ufuk Kocak: the man on mission possible

Nothing is impossible

To accommodate his dynamic and athletic lifestyle Ufuk has a range of prosthetic limbs.

He sometimes uses a wheelchair.

As a result Ufuk doesn’t see himself as disabled, but differently abled.

Rock climbing
Rock climbing

He questions why he should he been seen as any different from how he was before he

lost his legs, or from other men of his age.

I don’t want to be seen as a victim and I never want to be subjected to well

meaning but patronizing actions, or pity.

Water skiing
Water skiing

Inspiration and determination

Free diving
Free diving

Through inspirational talks, films showing Ufuk participating in a whole bucket list

of activities, many of which would daunt people with legs, he is asking Turkish

society to consider the way his country (and the rest of the world) approaches

disability in the 21st century.

Scuba diving
Scuba diving

A fundamental right

Ufuk believes that every individual has a fundamental human right to live life as

independently as their disability permits; to take risks and to grasp opportunities.

He asks families to allow their loved ones the freedom to discover their own limits

and to offer support as and when it is needed.

Rock climbing
Rock climbing

Enabling and encouraging

Eventually he would like to see more support for people with different abilities,

enabling and encouraging them to be independent, according to their needs and abilities.

Education and support not pity

Currently, much of the equipment necessary for an independent lifestyle is only available

privately, to those who can afford it, and as support is mainly provided by families,

many of which have no or little knowledge about what to do, he believes education

for all parties concerned is essential.

Tennis
Tennis

Furthermore he asks that local, regional and national authorities to consider the needs of people

with disabilities in public buildings and to make sure that roads, pavements and communal

areas are also disability friendly.

The ultimate challenge

Ufuk’s story has attracted the Turkish media, particularly since he announced his intention

to trek along part of the 509km Lycian Way, a rugged coastal path linking Fethiye to Antalya

across some daunting terrain.

Testing out the Lycian Way above Ölüdeniz
Testing out the Lycian Way above Ölüdeniz

But it’s not just about publicity he says. It’s more complicated

than that. As Ufuk explained,

I am doing all of this for the nine million disabled in Turkey and for

all the soldiers.

An incredible journey

From 15th April with support from Özcan Şarlı, he is planning to cover 250 kilometres

trekking, 116 kilometres by sailing and the remaining 50 kilometres on an ATV (quad bike).

Ufuk Kocak: the man on mission possible

In addition, Ufuk intends to swim, water-ski, wind surf, canoe and climb, in order to reach Fethiye on 3rd June.

Climbing up a waterfall
Climbing up a waterfall

At the moment Ufuk is checking out the trail with Özcan.

Fethiye Times wishes him good luck for every step of the way.

Taking a break at Kadır's Tree Houses in Olympos, Antalya
Taking a break at Kadır’s Tree Houses in Olympos, Antalya

For more information about Ufuk Kocak visit: www.engelsizufuk.com

If you are would like to support Ufuk with his work click here to visit DESSAT, the NGO supporting Ufuk’s Lycian Way project.

dessat

 

3 COMMENTS

  1. Wow! What an Amazing Guy and a True inspiration to his fellow country Men.
    We moved out here about 6 years ago with my Disabled Mother who became wheelchair bound and I was made very aware of the difficulties people face when trying to get into shops and up and down pavements in Fethiye and places to eat out, public Toilets, and Government Buildings etc.
    I do hope that Turkey take this wonderful Guy seriously.
    Turkey have many more Mountains to climb when it comes to adapting for the needs of its disabled people and others alike!
    Ufuk Kocak What a great Guy and a great inspiration to your Beautiful Country! Enjoy your life. x

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