Disability is often a barrier to leading a full life for many. It can be a hindrance to those wanting to excel, especially in a country where facilities for handicapped or physically challenged people exists merely mark on paper.
It is rare to find someone standing tall against the odds and breaking the shackles of negative thinking.
Atif Ali is one such person, who used his disability to push himself to new heights. The youngest among his three siblings, Ali lost both his hands touching a high-voltage line on the roof of his home in 2005.
“The first few days were just unbelievable, but within a few weeks I realised that I have to work things out without what I had,” said Ali, a second year computer sciences student at Islamabad Model Post Graduate College for Men in Sector H-8.
With his confident posture and sparkling eyes, Atif seems brimming with hope and looks forward to life.
What makes him special is that he has won gold medals in the 100 and 400 meter races at the 2013 Asian Youth Para Games held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as well as garnering attention in local events.
“Losing my hands was a blessing in disguise for me,” Ali added, saying his mother was a great motivator during his post-disability life. “My mother never treated me like a special child,” he said.
Ali said he never took the comments people made about him negatively, but rather as fuel to drive him further.
Narrating a memorable moment of his life, he said he faced off against taller, more experienced professional
athletes at the 2014 National Paralympic Games in Peshawar.
“I was very nervous and had no idea how to beat them,” he remembers. “I gathered my courage and told myself that I can do it; I ended up bagging a gold medal.” He said the experience reinforced his belief that nothing is impossible.
Ali receives the help of government-approved transcribers for complex or lengthy examinations. He said never failed in any of his courses.
At the 2014 Asian Para Games in Korea, Ali claimed fifth position in the 100 meters race. He recently returned from the Army Para Games in Sri Lanka, where he was awarded an honorary gold coin.
“To me, a disabled person is one who never tries again,” he said, when asked if at any point he felt that not having his hands impaired him in any way.
“The one who is amputated or has some part of body missing is not disabled, but the one who gives in is the actual failure,” he added.
Ali said the cliché “you cannot do this” pushed him to do many things in life including swimming and cycling.
“My dream is to work in an organisation where I can motivate and encourage special people, who think life is over for them and hope for nothing in life,” he said.
By: Riazul Haq