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Of enterprising, imaginative blind individuals

SHIBERGHAN(Pajhwok): In human society, there are always enterprising individuals who say no to limitations and make the impossible possible with hard work, decision-making and patience.

Though the blind are deprived of the blessing of eyesight, yet they have served as the light in the dark world and taken steps to make their presence felt and their capabilities acknowledged by opening the eyes of their heart.

Pajhwok Afghan News interviewed four visually-impaired people. Because of their strong decision-making power, they have proven to be role models — not only for the blind but also for the sighted.

Shiberghan: A blind man, working in three places in the capital of northern Jawzjan province, supports his 12-member family.

Qari Musawir Shuja, who lost his eyesight many years ago, is a young director of the Shiberghan-based Shuja radio station.

Having memorised the Holy Quran, he is running a small business of food items. He recently established a photography and film centre.

Shuja told Pajhwok: “At the age of 12, I gradually lost my vision to an illness, but I was never deterred by problems.”

He added: “I built my life facing challenges and problems. Having completed my school eduvation, I’m responsible for selling products of some companies in Shiberghan and selling food products.”

He lost his father three years ago, “I have since been supporting my two wives, three children, two sisters, three brothers and a mother.

In addition to selling eatable, he founded Shuja Radio last year. He initially employed four disabled people. But today he has 19 staffers.

“I have never imagined I’m a disabled person, because I know thinking along these lines will weaken my will to work,” he commented.

An epitome of grit and perseverance, he said: “I want to prove that if a person wants, he/she can overcome the biggest challenges in life.

“I’m a good example of dealing with abnormalities in life. Being flesh and blood, I do realise suffering, but don’t let it trump me.”

For his radio station, 19 people are working — some voluntarily. Six are in the filming and photography branch and three in the business section. He pays nine of them.

Shuja is happiness that despite being incapacitated, he is able to provide employment for nine people.

But this young man is also affected by the current situation and is faced with the economic problems and unemployment that is taking toll on the people.

“Recent changes have also affected my daily work. I wish this situation changes in favour of the people and their living standards improve.”

Meanwhile, his friend Samiullah Ziarmal commended Qari Shuja as a wise, creative and smart young man having created jobs for some people.

“I have known Qari Shuja for 15 years and I have worked with him in the media department. I want healthy youth take a cue from him.”

Sami hoped Shuja’s activities would motivate other special people into doing extraordinary things.

Herat City: A blind woman in western Herat province has memorised the Holy Quran besides graduating from high school.

Despite her economic problems, she was able to learn the Quran by heart and graduate from high school.

Hanifa Samimi recalled she had lost her sight in her childhood. As a result of the civil war, to her, disability did mean the end of the road.

Her disability notwithstanding, the woman said, she never felt disappointed with her vision loss. She fought it for years and did not let it hinder her growth and achievement of goals.

Samimi memorised the Quran in 10 years through listening to the holy book. At 22, she learnt the Quran by heart. Now she recites verses from the Quran with palpable enthusiasm.

A resident of Pashtun-Zarghun district, she was born in a poor family in 1986. She called civil war the main reason for her disability.

“I was six-year-old when an artillery shell hit our house in Pashtun Zarghun district. Something hit me in the head and I lost both my eyes,” she lamented.

Sharing the bitter story of her life, Samimi said: “I also completed high school education after many ups and downs.

“I studied till fourth grade, because I was a teenager and school was far from our house. My parents would not allow me to go to school alone. I did not go to school for a while until a relative enrolled his daughter. Then we went together to school and at last graduated from Pashtun Zarghun High School.”

Samimi also headed the Scientific, Cultural and Social Association of Herat province, but still struggled with financial hardships.

“I wish I could complete higher education, but my poor economic situation did not allow me to do so,” she said.

According to her, she has not yet married. Including her, she has a six-member family. She is the only breadwinner and pays 3,500 afghanis a month in house rent.

She called on aid organisations, businesspeople and the government to provide education for people with disabilities, so that they could realise their dreams. If supported, she is determined to obtain a PhD.

She said it was difficult for her to earn a living and to support her family, she had to teach students.

To pay the rent of the association’s office and meet other expenses, she has organised three classes with 60 students. Teaching religious subjects, the Quran and social sciences, she charges each student 50 to 100 afghanis a month.

Amina Arab, a close friend of Samimi, described her as a role model. She hailed Samimi for completing her high school education in the face of many challenges.

Arab commended Samimi’s brilliant academic record, saying the visually-impaired girl graduated with distinction.

“After the interest and efforts, she joined the school and after a while, it was revealed that the blind girl really have a special talent for education and first grade to the12 she was able to occupy the first position in the school,” Arab explained.

Arab also called on businessmen and donors to help Samimi and others like her complete higher education.

Wakil Ahmad Nekzad, her colleague, called Samimi one of the most active and successful women with whom even healthy people could not compete.

With her financial situation very painful, the woman is trying to establish an education centre named Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). She plans to teach children, young people and women the Quran at the centre.

Kunduz: A blind man, who has graduated from university in first position, is working for the welfare of visually-challenged people.

Hasibullah, a young man who lost his eyesight in a traffic accident, said he had bitter experiences of war and violence. He wished to live in peace and prosperity.

He called on youth to work for peace and mutual accommodation through attaining knowledge.

Hasibullah, 27, is a resident of Kunduz province. But his disability would not prevent him from serving others and advocating for their rights. He has been an example for others.

Hasibullah, immensely popular with the youth of Kunduz, actively participates in efforts for the betterment of fellow human beings.

Hasibullah said he lost his eyesight nine years ago in a traffic accident and he had passed 12th class by that time. He wanted to participate in the university entry test but after going blind he had lost everything.

He said: “After the traffic accident, I went to the doctor for the treatment of my eyes. But the doctor said there is no chance of bringing back your eyesight. That disappointed me a great deal. People once close to me abandoned me in my difficult time.”

He said it was difficult for him as his colleagues participated in university entry test and he could not. This situation was miserable for Hasibullah, who believed everything had ended for him.

After losing his eyesight, Hasibullah said he had been depressed as all his close friends avoided him. But with the support of his family, he was able to overcome difficulties and resumed his education.

Despite the fact that it was difficult for him to attend university classes, he did so for four years and completed his education with distinction.

He said: “After achieving my bachelor degree, I wanted to continue higher education. But economic problems did not allow me to continue higher studies.”

He is currently teaching visually-impaired people using the Braille System. “I tried to teach blind students using this system, most youth doing their study through Braille system in schools. For most blind students I have organized special tuition and other educational courses.”

After losing eyesight, he felt the pain of people deprived of vision and the fact that they were not provided with their basic rights.

He added over the past few years he advocated for the rights of the blind. “I am dreaming of my country staying peaceful and people living in harmony and stability. I want to continue my education and serve people. My message to youth is that Afghanistan needs sacrifices and youth should play their role in the reconstruction of the country.”

He said at this stage Afghanistan was relatively peaceful and hoped that durable peace would come soon and people would be able to live in prosperity.

He said: “Efforts should be made for national unity and solidarity. I hope in future we will become self-sufficient and will not ask others for help.”

Mohammad Kazim Wahid, his colleague, said: “Hasibullah always tried to support other disabled persons despite the fact that he himself was deprived of eyesight. In some cases, he advocated for the rights of the disabled.”

He urged other youth to work hard like Hasibullah and participate in social activities.

He asked the government and foreign NGOs to support Hasibullah in realising his dreams.

Afghanistan has suffered four decades of conflict and most youth of the country have unpleasant war memories.

Blind Benafsha in last semester of her bachelor’s degree

KABUL: A confident blind Benafsha reaches the last semester of her bachelor’s degree. Benafsha, 24, is a resident of capital Kabul, she was born in a poor family, but with hard work she was able to make a bright future for herself.

She completed her schooling from the Professional Blinds High School in 2016 and admitted to Kabul University’s Dari Literature Faculty. She was able to get 80 out of 100 marks during her University Entry Test for blind persons.

Benafsha, however, wanted to study law thus she referred to Hewad University and started law degree there.

She started telling her story as her eyes welled up. “I don’t exactly remember but my mother told me that I was two years old when I felt ill to measles. We then lived in Hesa-e-Awal district of Kapesa.”

“There was only one doctor in our village, my mother took me to him and he told my mother to keep me in a dark room.”

She stopped while telling her story and downed her head to her chest and grabbed it with her hands and said her mother kept her in the dark room for few days and this had negative impact on her eyesight.

She was unable to clearly speak as the deep sorrow of her life did now allow her throat to move freely and speak clearly but still she continued her story and said after she lost her eyesight her mother took her to Pakistan for treatment.

She dried up her tears with her shawl and said doctors conducted operation of her eyes but it was not successful and said her treatment was possible in the childhood but not now.

She raised her head, corrected her shawl and said initially she started learning in a learning centre for blind persons where she learned alphabetic and the next year she got admitted in the blind school.

She reminded of economic difficulties they went through saying her father who is not alive now was a drug addict and never paid attention to his family.

Benafsha said she made commitment to study and termed education vital equally to life. “In the past I would go to school with my elder sister and wished to have classmates and be able to go to school.”

She said her new classmates gave her hope and confidence for life and education.

She said her mother worked as cleaner at people’s homes and arranged livelihood for them through this way.

“I know how to sew shawl and wave jackets,” she said. She wore a red suit and a new shawl.

Benafsha said their economic problems were many and at times she was almost ready to stop going to school.

She referred to her University Entry Test story and said after a lot of hard work and efforts she obtained 80 out of 100 marks among blind contenders which were top marks at that time and suitable for a student to study law faculty but she was referred to literature faculty.

She said after she referred to the university she was told that first semester was about to end and she should refer next year.

“I was forced to get one year deferment and the reason was that the first semester was almost half ended.”

Tears from eyes were flowing unstopped and after a few second of calmness she said: “Had I not been blind I would have not seen this day.”

Referring to the unstoppable problems she suffered due to her blindness, she said her mother gave her confidence and took her to some private universities and the response was: “All students here can see and she is blind so she cannot study among them.”

She said she returned to home disappointed but suddenly things changed for her and with the support of a kind teacher she was able to study law faculty.

She said in the past she was given 60,000 afs annually by the Ministry of Disables and she supported her family and education expenditure with that amount.

But she said this year she did not receive her allowance, adding she has to pay the tuition fee of her two semesters but she has no money and don’t know from where to pay.

She also complained against common people’s behavior with disabled persons and said in the past people behaved with her in a strange way.

“Once few people blocked my way and started mocking me for being unable to see things.”

Benafsha mother said: “She is my third daughter. My husband died 10 years back and I have to arrange alimony for my children.”

She said in the past she worked at the house of a doctor but after the fall of previous government that doctor went to foreign and currently she has nothing to do.

With disappointing expression she said they paid 5,000 rent for the house and now they don’t know from where to pay the rent.

“Benafsha is my dearest daughter, I feel proud of her and I don’t feel that she is blind because she always managed to deal with her problems and educational career,” she said.

Benafsha said she went through a lot of difficulties and problems in her life but she was happy to be able to study in the field of her interest and hoped she would be able to complete her bachelor degree successfully.


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