A Pakistani Madrassa teacher lives with polio
Karachi, March 24, 2013- “I kneel before Allah. But I am unable to stand on my feet before any man.”
In Pakistan – a country where religious belief and polio eradication are often intertwined – QariAqeel teaches children the fundamentals of Islam and the Holy Quran. He also tells them, from his own painful experience, what it is like to live with polio.
As a teacher at a Madrassa in one of Karachi’s poorest areas, Aqeel talks to parents and children about the importance of vaccination from an Islamic perspective. Karachi is one of four main reservoirs of the polio virus in Pakistan and, due to constant population movement and insecurity, it is critical to the success of eradication efforts.
In this moving video, Aqeel takes the spotlight away from the politics and misunderstandings that can too often muddy the dialogue about polio vaccination. He brings the focus firmly back to what most matters: the heart-wrenching effects that polio can have on a young life – and the imperative that people all over the world come together to end this tragic and preventable disease, once and for all.
As a child, Aqeel so longed for an education and a connection to God that he braved pushing, shoving and being spit at by other children as he made his way on crutches through the streets of Karachi to learn at the local seminary.
Today, as a grown man, Aqeel might be speaking of his newly-acquired wheelchair, when he says:
“Now, when they push me, I just go faster.”
Or he might be speaking of the struggle to end polio itself.