Ali Tareen

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I was not blind at birth. I remember the day when I was told that I will not be able to see again like it was only yesterday. It was the year 2002 that my eyesight had started getting weak. I was quite young at that time. My family consulted almost every doctor across the city and they told me that with passage of time I will be able to see better. The situation was, however, entirely different than what the doctors had predicted. You can only imagine how a little boy would feel when he is told he will never be able to see properly ever again. With the passage of time, where I was hoping that my vision would get better it had only started to get worse. I have a disease that is called Retinitis Pigmentosa. It causes retinal degeneration that either progresses or regresses with time. My life was getting severely affected. I was adviced to quit school. The feeling where I could not see my family, friends and loved ones even though they were doing so much for me was killing me inside. My world as I knew it ceased to exist when I had lost complete vision in both my eyes. Everything was a blur and it was all falling apart and I couldn’t bring myself to disclose what I was feeling. What does a child who has lost his vision supposed to feel? Like every other youngster of my age I also had a plan for myself and my future. I was hoping to get better, go back to school and resume my studies. Where I was standing, I could only see two choices, either to indulge myself in self-pity or to not let this moment define me. I chose the latter. I did not let this get the best of me. I pushed my self hard. I knew that I wasn’t a quitter! You know what? Family plays a major role in your life. This was the time when I needed the support of my parents and like every other parent, my mother had dedicated her life to support and to push me through worst times because this is what family does, their love is unconditional and eternal. She was there to help me and my sister who is also suffering from the same disease every step of the line. I can’t thank her enough for all that she has done for me. She is like my own wonder woman. I think if I didn’t have her by my side a lot of things wouldn’t have been the way they are today. She had always kept a positive attitude around us, like nothing was wrong and that everything is just going to fall in place, eventually. With her continuous help and support and my own personal dedication I resumed everything that I wanted to achieve making peace with the fact that I will never be able to see the colors of this world ever again. Let me tell you, the world and people around you are beautiful either way. I have always kept myself motivated. You know, nothing is impossible if you have the willingness to work hard towards accomplishing you goals. Infact, I consider this as a blessing in disguise. I hope you share my story with people especially those who don’t have access to basic facilities. I want them to know there is a future in this country and that even people with disabilities can do so much. We should just stop playing the victim and focus on doing things rather than complaining about them. I have family abroad, my sister asks me to move to the United States because they have more opportunities for me but I don’t want to leave Pakistan. I wish to stay here and make all those facilities available for the 10% of the people with disabilities . I want to stay here and fight for them. Ali Khan Tareen has done his masters in Mass Communications. He has been working with different organizations, particularly NGOS including Young Social Reformers, Youth Parliament, Society for National Education and Karachi Youth Initiative. He has also done a Radio Project on FM 100 in 2014 running a Web Radio show called ‘Sab ka Saath’. The show has been dedicated to visually impaired people. Ali is also a recipient of the Government of Sindh, Department of Youth Affairs Youth Icon Award in 2012. Ali had joined Train the Young Trainer, a premier program by School of Leadership in April 2015. He wishes to pursue his career in training so that his story reaches out to many people. He has also conducted trainings in the past on motivation, confidence and building self-esteem.

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