Four thousand Odesites came to the local Palace of Sports to see Nick Vujicic. People were standing in corridors, sitting on stairs or behind the stage just to hear Nick Vujicic – a person without limbs, a motivational speaker and Christian evangelist. Opinion found out why our people are so happy to hear a successful Australian who knows only one word in Ukrainian, and whether his character differs from his line.
Having come to Odesa from Lviv, Nick Vujicic set up a press conference at 9 a.m. – unusually early for Odesa journalists. However, the number of cameras in the hall (which was situated in a hotel on the Odesa coast) didn’t differ from that when the Prime-Minister comes. A special person from Vujicic team brought him to the table. Soon he explained why he gathered journalists so early.
“I have a very busy schedule today. After the press conference, I go to an orphanage, then to meet the Odesa’s mayor. Then I have s meeting with students, and then I have a section for those who have bought tickets. I hope I will manage to do everything.”
“When I was a teenager, I attempted a suicide. I didn’t understand why I was born so. Children didn’t want to play with me, and at school, I was the first child with disabilities in the class. Children didn’t offend me but they ignored me as if I didn’t exist. I was constantly thinking that I lack limbs. And in some years, I fell down and broke my leg (Nick has a small deformed foot which helps him to move) and I was lying with a cast for a month. Then I understood that I had something already. And then I realized: if there was no room for a miracle in my life, then perhaps, I could be that miracle,” Vujicic says.
Vujicic doesn’t usually speak about it, but he didn’t succeed only by himself. All his family devoted themselves to Nick, and he was born in Australia – the country with the leading medical services, social standards and attitude to the disabled. His team includes about twenty people who are accompanying him in his 6-month world tour. But in every sentence, he highlights that it was the god who helped him.
It is another Vujicic at the meeting with students: he jokes a lot, tells less about god and more about success. It is exactly what a young generation needs to put away their smartphones and start to listen to a “motivational speaker”.
“It is you who change the world. When you look at a person who has made something good, just know that everything began from a decision… I like the garden conception: you sow seeds in the ground, water them, fertilize (manure smells bad but it is good for soil), and something grows up. Many of you think that you should leave Ukraine, that it hasn’t given you anything. But I beg you, don’t view a current situation as an eternal one. Vice versa, it is only a start and it is great to be involved in start-ups, isn’t it? Stop blaming generation that was before you, you should do something to make parents and then your children be proud of you. Ukraine is only 27, she is as young as you. And it depends on you what you can give to your Motherland, what will grow up out of your country,” Nick Vujicic says.
Despite all the “negative circumstances” which students like to mention, this is what young people seem to want to hear. People were applauding for several minutes.
“There are two positions: there are those who want to emigrate to Europe, and officials who say: live here, work here. Nick seems to be the first person who explained why we should really live here. It is not about some theatrical patriotism but about what you are ready to give in exchange for your expectations. Nobody gave us such motivational speeches at school or university,” Mykola Nalyvaiko, a second-year student, said.
In the evening, the hall where Vujicic was to perform was full. More than 4 thousand Odesites came to listen to the “motivational speaker”. Many of them were ready to stand on the stairs for several hours only to hear Nick. The first row was taken by people in wheelchairs, people with vision and hearing impairment were sitting behind, there were also many people with crutches. Surprisingly, a lot of young people came. They seem not to need any motivation. Christian songs which lasted 90 minutes didn’t make people lose their enthusiasm, they were waiting for Nick Vujicic.
“I often feel depressed. I live in a block of flats, and for me going outside is a huge problem. My wheelchair isn’t able to go through all the pits on pavements, and my pension wouldn’t cover my taxi expenses. So I spend 90% of my free time at home, I can only gaze out a window. My only pleasure is a TV. I saw a commercial about Vujicic there. For people in wheelchairs, there was a free entry. I realize that he won’t raise my subsidies or set a wheelchair ramp, but I am just tired of living a drab life. I just wanted to hear something positive,” a 52-year-old Serhii said.
There are many people like Serhii in the hall. They tell their stories, and they all are alike: a drab life, too many problems, lack of air. However, just the expectation of “motivation tips” seems to enhance people’s mood. There was no argument for seats, people were polite and wished each other all the best. It felt like you were in a mirror-world. 4 thousand of friendly Ukrainians in one place is kind of a miracle.
As soon as Nick Vujicic came on stage, people started to applaud. Young people started to shoot stories for Instagram, elder people folded their hands and sat up as pupils. Unlike a calm mode at the conference and a friendly one at the student meeting, here Vujicic decided to have a buffoon mode on: he starts to shout sometimes, often mimics Ukrainian words of an interpreter and constantly makes jokes of his disability. The crowd laughed immensely. No official narrative or sermons. He is rather telling a didactic joke.
“Guys, you will never guess what I have in my wardrobe! Trainers in case if God will give me feet. If it happens, it will be a proper miracle, if no, then I will be a miracle – a weird limbless person. And if I can be a miracle – I will be happy. I am not an angel, and I don’t want to be an angel, but I can stand by the gates to hell and just turn people back. And you can also be like me. I know how it feels when you have nothing when you are devastated. When so, you can help neither yourself nor others. You should start from a gratitude. To your wife, mother or children. Just recall what you love them for. And you will be filled with that feeling. And you will be able to share it with others. And your life will become a bit lighter,” Vujicic said.
People take simple words as a preaching. He always mentions god but doesn’t call people to visit a church. He doesn’t tell about money but he sells a fairy-tale. And Ukrainians are ready to buy it.
“There is only negative news, politicians only have arguments, people are rude in shops, hospitals, schools etc. Ukrainians aren’t positive at all. And he came from Australia and tells about kindness and respect. And I am ready to listen to him for two hours to distract from negative stuff,” Serhii said trying to go down the concrete stairs of the Palace of Sports.
By Kostiantyn Rul