Anyone who wants to reach their dreams have to work hard for it. And for people with special needs, it’s no different. In fact, it can get doubly-hard for them but to someone with indomitable spirit, nothing is impossible.
Such is the case for Afrah Khalfan Saeed al Nabi — student, artist, and athlete.
Although she has to use a wheelchair to move around, it never became a hindrance to what she wants to achieved.
Afrah, 24-years old, was born a normal child. But an accident when she was 13 took away her ability to walk. She had days of hopelessness, went through years of medical therapy but never regained her motor skills and leave her wheelchair behind.
Instead of looking at herself as a victim and a handicap, she came to a moment of realization that there are still other things she can do.
While she was in the hospital undergoing treatment, she reconnected with her passion for drawing. She has always been artsy as a child.
To drive away the boredom, she would draw for hours while in her bed. Doctors and nurses encouraged her to pursue it and as a gesture of confidence, would always ask her to autograph her works.
Right after heading home, she also began making bold decisions. She decided that she would return to school and finish what she has started.
Afrah insisted on re-integrating herself into the society building the foundation for a brighter future. She joined the Omani national group of handicapped women on wheelchairs for basketball. Their latest achievement was participating on a training camp held in Thailand together with participants from 18 different countries.
She started slow as an athlete, but with the support of her family and coach Hammoud Al Amiri, a former coach of the national youth basketball team, she learned the ropes of the game and gotten good in it. Although still facing many challenges, meeting other people with disabilities like her allowed her to see the importance of keeping an active lifestyle which eventually led to her falling in love with basketball.
Afrah today balanced being an athlete and being an artist.
She has become a distinguished artist with many of her pieces going to different exhibitions. She has her works exhibited at the Royal Opera House Muscat three times, and showcased them in the Air Hall of Gloria, the Twilight Club, the Wave street, Sultan Qaboos University, Budo, the City Centre, the Oman Exhibition Centre, and Muscat College at the Hall of Light and Pictures.
On this front, she also won several competitions one of which is a contest held in Kuwait that looks into a person with disability’s view of the future.
Her active lifestyle led her to a huge following in social media of which she also takes the time to communicate with her friends and fans.
Afrah shared that one’s disability shouldn’t hinder them from doing other productive things.
For this writer, Afrah’s work of arts do not betray her disability. She is a master of her craft and the optimism of her works draw you in.
Afrah subscribe to the idea that “Life is owned by those who are optimistic while the pessimist just become its audience.”
Afrah is just one of the many women with disability who strive hard to live their lives with dignity despite the thousands of obstacles thrown their way.
As a testament to her perseverance, she is now in her last year in secondary school. She also just finished participating in an arts exhibition. She also continues practicing her favourite sports, basketball, and is hoping that one day she will officially become a part of the Omani Basketball Women Team for people with special needs.
One of the most important lessons that Afrah shared is that nothing can ever stop desire.
“Disability is not on people’s body, rather, it is on their minds. In the end, whether life is happy or sad, it depends on the way you decide on how to look at your life,” she said.
siham al saidi