The Resolute Warrior: Fahim Ul Karim

Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam said, “You have to dream before the dream comes true.” Your dreams can never be too big, or you can never be too small to achieve them. Throughout the century, many conquerors proved it in many ways. So, adding to those, here is the story is of a young Bangladeshi boy named Fahim, who had a dream, and he has achieved it despite having obstacles and disability.

The story has climax, struggle, obstacle, and achievement. When we hear stories of triumph, we only see the smiling face of the achiever, the sweat and blood that was shredded behind stays locked and untouched. We reached out to this striving young man to know a little about her life journey, some of which we have shared in the following:

Fahim Ul Karim

Graphic Designer

Age: 21 (4th March 1998)

“Though I was born in Magura district, I grew up in Alikadam of Bandarban. I lived in Alikadam from 1999 to 2004, along with my parents. I started my education life at Alikadam Pre-cadet School in 2001. I used to be like any other normal person back then, could do everything by myself. In 2003, my mother and I got affected by malaria, so we got back to Magura, in my village. Then again, I got admitted to a school. It was a kindergarten named Pathshala. As I was comparatively better in studies than others, I sat for an interview and made my way to PTI School the following year. My student life at PTI had begun. Everything was fine until I was in second grade, and did an unexpectedly bad result in the finals because of scoring low numbers in the Physical Education. After some days, I was not feeling considerably fit. Then, my dad took me to the doctor, and that’s when my sickness came out. In 2008, I was taken to India, and the doctors there told us that my disease does not have any cure. The condition is called Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

As per doctors, I grew weaker day by day. In 2012, when I was in 8th standard, just 2/3 days before the JSC examination, I became paralyzed. It is not like this all happened all of a sudden as I had this disease since childhood. The doctor told us before that this will happen, I will go skinny day by day, loose strength even will die by 18 to 20. With all of these, I sat for the JSC examination and did very well in it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get into 9th grade. I had to quit my education here. Since childhood, I always had this curiosity to learn more. It may be by reading books or from someone or just by watching television I proceeded my learning session. Though I did not get into 9th grade, but my Mom got me the 9th-grade science books. I started reading them all by myself. At a time, I began teaching small children. Everybody used to come to my home to study. In 2014, I bought an android phone with my tuition money from 2013-’14 and by adding some amount from my home. Then I took an internet line. Though back then, internet meant Facebook to me. Then slowly, I started to learn about Google, YouTube, etc.

In the middle of 2015, I learned about earning through the internet from a Facebook page. First thing I came across was Teespring. I thought I could do it with my phone. But after trying for a few days, I realized it is not possible without a computer. When I told my family about getting me a computer but couldn’t really make a statement and also for being from a lower-middle-class family, that wasn’t possible right away. Yet I didn’t give up. Then I got added to a group named Odesk Bangladesh (currently Upwork Bangladesh). There, everybody used to talk about online jobs. I used to brush through all of their posts and comments. I learned about web designing from a post, there were some pdf links, and I downloaded them all and almost learned about HTML. But after some days I was getting frustrated. I thought it can’t go this way; I have to learn something specific. So, I posted on the group that I wanted to learn to work, what to learn, I can’t move so how to work from home, etc. So, one of the admins of the group introduces me with an elder brother of my area. That brother came to my home to help me out and gave me a clear idea about graphics designing. I still didn’t have a computer. After sometimes, maybe months, a neighbor sister’s Facebook ID got disabled, and I fixed it. Just like that, I helped a lot of people’s problems with their internet or phone by fixing them, because I found it fascinating. That is why I was quite well known to all. So, that sister and her friends took the initiatives to buy me a computer and to convince my parents. Then I took a loan from the bank and added my mother’s savings with it along with the collected money of that sister I bought my first laptop. After getting a computer, I started to stroke across it and mastered a few skills on it. I wasn’t enough financially independent to afford enough internet. So, I bought a DVD on graphics designing worth BDT 500 and started to watch it and kept practicing. I finished watching the DVD and learned the Photoshop basics pretty fast. But I needed more, so I started to watch YouTube tutorials. As I didn’t have internet, I used to buy low budget internet offers and downloaded the videos.

Fahim’s Workstation

I kept practicing and posting my work in the Odesk Bangladesh group. I learned designing business cards, banner, etc. then I got to know about the Fiverr. I found the Fiverr help Bangladesh through searching it on Facebook. I read the documents of that page, and on February 2017, I started Fiverr gig (service offers of Fiverr Gig). A short time after the opening of the gig, I got a job. Never have I thought that I would get a job so fast. I finished my work in a few hours. The buyer got impressed and gave me a 5-star review and bonus. My first earning was 15 USD. After that, I didn’t have to look back. I became the level 1 seller just in a month. Even at times, I forgot to eat, and my Mom fed me, and I kept working. I became the level 2 seller within 3 months. My income was about 40,000 in Bangladeshi money. But it was still unbelievable in my family. In April 2017, my father lost his job. That was the first time I had withdrawn my money. I took out 37,000 Tk from my deposit.

Everyone was beyond happy in my family. After that, I started to get money every month. Then, in the middle of 2017, I opened an account in the Upwork. After trying for a few days, my account got approved. As I’ve had completed 70% work in the fibers, I had enough experience. Implementing those experiences, I soon got myself a job. It was also 3 months here, I got a top-level badge. I still am beholding the top-level badge in the Upwork and level 2 in Fiverr. I’m earning around 500 USD every month.

My mother was with me in this long journey and still is. My idol is Stephen Hawking. The statement of him that upgraded my confidence and fueled me for my long way is: “My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically.”

I never thought of myself as weak. Just like any other ordinary person, I work considering I have to earn for my family. I can financially shield my family, and it makes me happy. My family forever supports me a lot. Especially my mother keeps track of my work even remembers the name of my clients. If I’m sleeping and a client texted me, my mother will wake me up. As I have to stay awake for my work, she wakes up at 3-4 am every day to help me eat and lie me down to sleep as I can’t do these things by myself.

Fahim receives congratulation and award from the State Minister Mr. Junaid Ahmed Polok

Another thing is to know English for a job is very important. As I couldn’t complete my education, I watched different English movies, shows, etc. noted down the new words and taught myself English. At first, it was tough but slowly after working with the buyers, I have almost got it in control. Now I don’t face any more trouble in interacting with foreign buyers through messages, even phone calls. If I face any problem or get stuck, I take the help of Google.

To survive the freelancing market, you have to keep yourself updated; that is why I’m learning new things every day and practicing accordingly. I have worked in almost 500 projects by now. Also, those who are new in this sector, I helped them with various information through different groups.”

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