Part 2/2

Käännös Varpu Sihvonen

It’s All In the Eyes

Marja Korhonen Talks With Her Eyes

By Anne Mietala

The world’s tiniest computer mouse is silver, and it sits on the forehead of Marja Korhonen. It’s probably the most important single thing to help Korhonen, who paralyzed and lost her ability to speak more than ten years ago, as a result of a brainstem stroke.

Korhonen visits schools around Finland and talks about acceptance and bullying. Since she can only move her head and eyes and smile, she is always accompanied by an assistant, or an Angel, as she calls her help.

Korhonen and her Angels talk with a Plexiglas that has letters and numbers printed on it. Korhonen focuses her eyes on a letter, Angel clicks on it, and Korhonen then confirms the letter by blinking her eyes. Letter by letter she makes words and sentences, and after years of practice, Korhonen and her Angels talk very fast.

This time Korhonen is visiting an elementary school in Karstula. She explains how she needs help in everything; eating, dressing and moving.

“I’m like a big baby,” she laughs.

Obviously Korhonen has not lost her sense of humor, and she sure knows how to charm her audience. The kids laugh and feel comfortable enough to touch Korhonen’s arms that rest on her lap and try talking with her using the Plexiglas.

Korhonen is tied to a wheelchair, but it hasn’t stopped her. One of the things she really enjoys is travelling, visiting warm and sunny countries, to be exact.

“The wheelchair is no big deal. I can still fly. I love the sun, actually I need the sun!” she laughs.

Korhonen used to be a teacher before the incident that slowed her down for just a little while. Now she’s back and moves ahead with full speed. And she still cares about children, a lot. Like at the end of this school visit, she donated an angel to each class. The angels will protect the children and keep an eye on them; they remind the children that bullying and calling other kids names are not acceptable.

What is acceptable is the fact that we all are different and yet special in our own way.