Teacher proves disability is not a limitation

|     James Kon     |

DESPITE being born without arms, Bahri bin Bohari has never lived his life differently to that of any other normal person in the country.

With his strong will and enduring spirit, Bahri, who is working under the Ministry of Education as a teacher, has managed to overcome many challenges in life.

“I have never thought that being born without arms was unfortunate, but rather took it as a challenge to test my own ability,” Bahri said while addressing a forum held to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities at the International Convention Centre (ICC) on Tuesday morning. “Physically, maybe I am different but in terms of emotions, I am just the same as everyone else.”

He continued, “I carry out many tasks in life by using both my legs only, such as eating, drinking, playing football and driving. My legs are my hands and I utilise them fully in order to live.”

Bahri added that in his opinion, it is only when one is given enough opportunities to develop or learn new skills that they can determine whether they can or cannot do them.

Bahri bin Bohari. – RAHWANI ZAHARI

“I believe that disabilities do not limit our activities, but they challenge and motivate us to look for different approaches in carrying out activities which we may not think of,” he said, noting that one of the main barriers that limit opportunities for people with disabilities is the general public’s negative perception of them.

“There are people who don’t understand and accept who we are,” he said.

“For example, a few years ago, I tried to apply for a job as a driver. The employer gave me a straight ‘no’. However, I managed to persuade the employer to give me a chance to prove myself. I managed to do so in the end and was given the chance to take my driving licence.

“There is nothing I can’t do because I possess strong motivation and a will that ‘I can do it’.”

Another forum panellist, Ustazah Hajah Zaleha binti Haji Abu Salim from the Brunei Down Syndrome Association, shared her experience as a mother to a child with Down Syndrome.

“Some people have expressed their sympathy to me and my child,” she said. “That will bring a weak spirit to the family, and the child, if he or she understands the feeling, will have low self-esteem.”

The general community, Ustazah Hajah Zaleha said, “must understand such sensitivities as well as be aware and understand the meaning of the many disabilities”.

Acting Head of the Special Education Unit (SEU), Ministry of Education Haji Ali Yusri bin Abdul Ghafor has been impressed with Bahri’s motivation and spirit in living his life.

Haji Ali Yusri said, “The main role of special education is to give children with special needs inclusive education. I’ve come up with the motto ‘AAA’, which means Anak Adalah Anugerah or “A child is a gift”. Many of the programmes in the SEU focus on academic aspects.

“We also focus on the potential of special needs children in a number of programmes in the last two years, such as from the religious standpoint. Four children managed to get into Institut Tahfiz Al-Quran Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (ITQSHHB) thanks to their parents’ support.”

Haji Ali Yusri also revealed that 15 special needs children who have demonstrated aptitude in sports will undergo training with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.