Generosity comes in many forms – money, moral support, other staple resources – but they all have one thing in common, that is helping out those in need. One of the organizations that are helping the athletes of our nation, is the Special Olympics Pakistan (SOP). This organization is supportive of athletes with intellectual disability and have helped provide them support, whether in the form of sports training and competitions, providing for their health needs, or helping young athletes (2-7 year olds) feel at home, as well as giving them opportunities to showcase their talents to represent our nation.
Often we end up ignoring these stars of our nation, in favor of the mainstream culture. This project is to make sure that the awareness is spread and more people understand the wide spread talent present in our country and stop from looking for it from a narrow perspective. Today, we would like to share the stories of three inspirational SOP athletes: Adil Visram, Shaayan Mohammed Javed and Aliya Zainab.
Adil Visram is one of the oldest athletes at SOP, at the age of 49. This man has been given many accolades over time, one of the most important being the International Global Messenger and attending the 2007 World Summer Games in Shanghai, which allowed him to give a speech in front of an audience of approximately 700,000 people. Because of the developmental delays and his weak nature at birth, Adil was bullied during his school days, but that didn’t stop him from working hard on his English as well as his computer skills. His achievements have allowed him to meet global leaders including former US President Barack Obama, former Governor of California and Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Actor Jackie Chan, and many more celebrities. Adil is now an independent person who is not only working with SOP but also part-time working at Milestones Charitable Trust, a school for the special needs children, as a Physical Educations Teacher.
Shaayan Mohammed Javed is a young child who was diagnosed with high Myopia at one of the events organized by SOP. He was prescribed glasses of -32, however his father could only afford glasses of -7, which he was wearing at the screening event. SOP began to look for organizations that produced glasses with lenses that weak. When they couldn’t find any within the nation, they searched in the Southeast Asian nations, where the maximum power they could find was -29, leading them to asking around in the United Kingdom and Canada, where they found opticians who wanted to meet Shaayan. After two and a half months, they were finally able to find these glasses and paid $180 so he could see and experience the world. His father is only a local salesman who earns $150 every month, and could only afford the -7 powered glasses that he previously wore and hated. Now, however, he wears glasses willingly and sees the world the way we do.
Last but definitely not the least, we have the story of Aliya Zainab, one of the basketball athletes who has represented Special Olympics Pakistan. Aliya had Malocclusion teeth, which didn’t allow her to chew food, so she could only eat pureed food, or extremely soft food like noodles. After she won a silver medal in the 2011 World Summer Games in Athens, Mr. Shah, a Government official announced to fund her treatment, and cleared everything with Dr Mahmood Haider. However, after 4 months, SOP received a phone call from the doctor’s office, and was asked to clear the dues, as they were unable to continue her treatment if these dues weren’t paid for. After finding out that the sponsor had backed out, SOP managed to raise funds (around $6000), as abandoning the treatment would have been demoralizing for Aliya and her family. The treatment continued for about 4 more years, where she had some minor surgeries and a major surgery, and by December 2016, her braces were removed, and she was able to chew bread for the first time in the 30 years of her life.
These stars are but three of many throughout our nation who aren’t able to experience life the way many of us are able to do, and don’t have the privilege that we do to be able to get treatment. So let us pray and donate what we can, for the future of our nation because no matter how imperfect it looks now, we are all one and the same.