By Giacomo Brunelli @giacomobrunelli
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Videographer / director: Cristhian Vinueza
Producer: Giacomo Brunelli, Ruby Coote
Editor: Sonia Estal
Victoria Salcedo, 23, from Guayaquil in Ecuador, was playing in her home when she accidentally touched a high voltage wire with a metal stick.
Her mother Celia told BTV: “I will never forget that day, it was a Sunday, we heard a loud sound come from upstairs and thought it was an earthquake, but then we heard Victoria’s screams”.
The accident happened on the November 11, 2001, and the electrocution caused third degree burns so severe that both her arms and one leg had to be amputated.
Victoria was so young that she doesn’t remember her life before the accident.
She told BTV: “The child I was at the time didn’t really register the ‘traumatic’ part of the traumatic event.”
Growing up with only one leg and no arms, Victoria had to re-learn every basic task, and although she initially tried using prosthetic arms, she never really liked using them.
Victoria refers to her only limb as her “magic leg” as it has allowed her to regain her independence.
From applying makeup to writing, from dressing to scrolling through her phone, Victoria has become incredibly dextrous with just her right foot and leg.
And now Victoria has developed a new, and unlikely hobby – free-diving.
She explained: “I was invited by a friend to try and it was just perfect for me”.
But when BTV asked Victoria what her biggest challenges were growing up she laughingly answered: “Killing mosquitos is still really difficult for me”.
As she grew older, she started realising that she was different to others and adapting to others’ views of her was not easy at first.
She explained: “Changing people’s mind is difficult – those who think you are more or less of a person – there’s not much you can do; you can only adapt to that”.
Victoria has proved those who doubted her wrong by becoming a social media influencer, with over 35k followers, and she recently embarked on a modelling career.
She said about her online presence: “I never thought of becoming an influencer but now it’s something that I enjoy a lot”.
Her brother Gabriel also never expected her to become an internet sensation.
He said: “Truly, I never imagined that. I am so proud of her, she never pities herself and always looks at the positive side of life”.
Victoria does receive mean comments online, but she reads them all with a smile, saying she never takes them seriously and instinctively perceives them as jokes even if they weren’t meant that way.
Her online success coupled with her incredibly positive attitude has made her somewhat of a local celebrity.
BTV followed Victoria as she attended a local television interview in her hometown of Guayaquil, where the talk show hosts introduced her as, ‘a woman who is a warrior, an empowered woman’.
Being able to share her story with the public is important for Victoria.
She explained: “I use what I’ve lived through and what I’ve learnt, and I share that part of myself with others – for me inspiring others is an opportunity to change people’s minds”.
Her mother Celia told BTV that she loves the privilege of being her mother.
She said: “She gives her heart, her smile and her soul – that is something that you can’t always find these days”.
Victoria is working hard studying for her Social Communications University degree as she aims to become a news reporter for her future career.
She hopes to continue to inspire others and live by her mantra: “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you”