Few people could have dealt a worse hand than Arif Mahmood, a 50 year old resident of Dhoke Ratta, who is visually-impaired and stricken with polio. Despite his physical condition, he spends his life like a normal person and works with complete dedication and commitment.
“I will never forget the day I lost my eyesight. It was December 16, 2004. Since then, there has been complete darkness in my life. But still I didn’t give up and decided to spend the rest of my life like a normal person,” Mahmood told The Express Tribune, while making iron chairs at a small factory in Rawalpindi.
Narrating his ordeal, Mahmood said he used to face difficulty in reading since his childhood, and the doctors had told him that one day he will completely lose his eyesight. With the passage of time, his eyesight became weaker and then finally came the day when darkness took him into its folds.
“When Dr Arshad Bhatti, an optometrist at Al Shifa Eye Trust told me that my disease was not curable, I travelled the whole country and visited every optometrist I could find, but my efforts proved useless,” he said. “The doctors told me that I could get treated in the United States, but due to financial constraints I could not go there,” he added.
Mahmood worked at a small electronics shop in Raja Bazaar after getting a diploma from Islamia College Rawalpindi, where he repaired radios and televisions.
Due to his eyesight, Mahmood could not continue his studies either, but he was not going to give in to his circumstances. He decided to establish a small factory for making iron chairs. “I always had a desire to do something different. That is why I decided to open up my own factory,” he remarked.
Talking about the difficulties he faced in establishing his own business, he said, “I borrowed Rs100,000 from my relatives and invested them in the factory.” “There was also a time when I lost hope as no one would buy the chairs and I was in great debt. However, with the passage of time, things started taking a positive turn,” he remarked.
After some time, he received an order of 25 chairs from a shopkeeper, which was the first order for his business. “It was the happiest day of my life. After that, I hired two employees to help me as my business started growing,” he added.
“Currently I make around Rs10,000 to 15,000 per month, but there are times when my income goes up to Rs25,000,” said Mahmood.
He further said he made three kinds of chairs which were sold ranging from Rs350 to Rs650, and he received 25 to 50 orders per week from different parts of the country. His days of dependence were defeated by his self-reliance and resilience. And now, his business has shown considerable growth.
Shahid Abbas, one of his employees, said Mahmood was diligent in his work and he had learnt a lot from him.
“He is a really hard-working person. He is always active during work hours and shows complete commitment towards his work,” said Abbas.
Talking further about his business, Mahmood said that his business possessed a lot of potential and a huge amount of revenue could be generated if the government showed interest in exporting iron chairs.
“I hope to see the day when my factory would employ thousands of workers and my chairs would be exported in all parts of the world,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2011.