“We do not have to crawl when we feel that something pushes us to fly”, the American deaf-blind writer, Helen Keller left life after a long struggle against disability until she was called “the Miracle of Humanity.”, before her death, she gave the humanity these words to lighten the path for weak and ambitious people. Today, the athletic Ahmed Tafesh, 31 years old from Gaza, decided to fly with wings of will and faith instead of his lost hands. In the playground, he moves from one game to another. In that way, he moves from being just an amateur to a competitor to achieve impressive results and surprise everyone.
“Tafesh” was born with a disability; he does not have complete hands, but since his childhood, he used to live with it and accept it. He commented on that, “I adapted to the disability with the help of my family. I lived my childhood; I played, ate my food, drank, wrote, and joined my classmates and went to school trips.” He added, “Honestly, I was able to impose myself on society, and I did not isolate myself from it.” Ahmed was able to adapt quickly and began his studies in Libyan schools diligently and with the encouragement of his colleagues and teachers without feeling inferior, until he returned to Gaza. Then, he felt the presence of his disability because of the comments of people around him as he described. However, with his steel will, Ahmed continued his studies until he graduated from the Rehabilitation Department at Community College in 2004.
Early on, Ahmed loved sports and started to practice it. He was playing football, table tennis, weightlifting and other games with his friends. In that regard, he said, “When I watched table tennis, I loved that game, and I started to think about how I could play it despite my disability. At the beginning, I started to hold the racquet with my hands with difficult, so I invented a method that helps me to hold the racquet with one hand and the ball with the other hand. He continued, “I designed a tool made from leather, and I connected it to the racquet. When I play, I tie it to my hand, while I hold the ball with the other one.”
In the weightlifting hall, Ahmed went to one of the machines and sat on it. He set a heavy weight and began to exercise. He surprised his coach, who thought he would go to a game for people with disabilities. Ahmed considers sports as a way to overcome his disability and achieve amazing results. He participated in several local tournaments and won many medals. He is currently playing in the Palestinian Military Team, hoping to raise the flag of Palestine in the Arab and international championships. He pointed out that he is currently assigned to be the table tennis sports guide in the Palestinian Military Team. Moreover, he is preparing himself for a tennis table championship, which will be held soon in an Arab country.
On the difficulties he faced in his sports path, he said, “The society’s negative perception of people with special needs from the standpoint of grief and sympathy for these people. Moreover, the relevant authorities do not embrace the talents of people with disability.” It is noteworthy that Ahmed rejects the prosthetic limbs. From his point of view, they will control him and restrict his movement.” During our conversation with him, his phone rang, and he grabbed it with his hands and answered. Then he talked to us about his family, saying “I am very proud of my family. I am married and father of three children. They are proud of me and have adapted to my disability.”
Ahmed works beside practicing sports as a data entry operator in one of the ministries in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, he manages Alnbras Educational Center which he founded in order to eradicate illiteracy and to teach various courses.
His beautiful spirit and smile did not fade away throughout the dialogue. At the end of his speech, he addressed the community, saying “We are part of this society and we have rights and duties. Disability does not affect our energy and enthusiasm, and society should be proud of us.” Ahmed also sent his message to the media professionals to convey the achievements of his peers because the future will be more beautiful with free journalists as he described.
Ahmed Tafesh, nicknamed “the Ambassador of People with Special Needs”, is a role model who has strong will and steadfastness. When you watch him playing football and scoring goals, or when he carries his racquet with one hand and the ball with the other hand, you realize that nothing can stop anyone from achieving his/her dream as long as he/she has faith and determination. The real disability is not the loss of limbs, hearing or sight, but rather surrendering to the troubles of life.