A short interview with a polio victim

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Q: SO MR AHMED TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF.

A: I AM AHMED SAID HAMED ALHARRAISI, BORN IN 9TH AUGUST,1986. I AM CURRENTLY STUDYNG MASTERS IN FINANCE AT COVENTRY UNIVERSITY. I AM FROM OMAN AND THIS IS MY FIRST TIME ABROAD.

Q: SO, MR AHMED I HAVE HEARD THAT POLIO HAS BEEN ERADICATED PARTIALLY IN OMAN. SO TELL US HOW HAVE YOU BEEN INFECTED BY THE VIRUS?

A: Polio mainly affects children under the age of five, according to the WHO. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis; five to 10 per cent of patients die when their breathing muscles become immobilised. It can only be prevented by vaccination. In Oman, immunisation against polio, diphtheria and tetanus is provided to students of first, sixth and 11th grades. Immunisation coverage among school children has reached almost 100 per cent. In Oman, immunisation against polio, diphtheria and tetanus is provided to students of first, sixth and 11th grades. Immunisation coverage among school children has reached almost 100 per cent. Data released by the WHO on Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) cases on weekly basis through the Regional Office for Eastern Mediterranean claims that there were only 31 cases of AFP in 2012, 20 in 2013 and four this year till date. Meanwhile, the data also adds that there has not been even a single confirmed case in Oman during the last three years. According to the WHO, the last virologically-confirmed polio case in Oman was reported in December 1993. Last year in October, under His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s directive, Oman contributed $5m to eradicate polio.

I have been immunised against polio since I was a year old. It is a five dosage immunisation package. I have been born healthy and polio free. However, problem arose on my 3rd immunisation, when I was accidentally injected at the wrong place. I was aged 3 then. Since then I have been infected with this paralytic state and have lived with crutches.

Q: SO HOW HAVE YOU COPED WITH THIS ACQUIRED PROBLEM?

A: Initially,I faced problems due to lack of mobility with the right leg being disabled entirely. Even medications have been complete waste. Now,that I have been infected with this virus, I have learnt to cope with the problem. The polio virus leaves with no option than be crippled for a lifetime. Therefore vaccination is really important.

Q: HOW HAS LIFE BEEN IN ENGLAND?

A: Well,life has been one hard struggle here.However I really like it here. I have become acustomed here to the weather and culture. Most importantly, I really like the education system here. I have made quite a few friends and have visited a few places.

Q: HOW DIFFERENT IS IT IN OMAN FROM THE UK CULTURE?

A: Well,in Omanian culture, it has been a tradition to dine in together with the family members in the evening. Oman is considerably warm and the cuisine is exotic ,full of spices unlike the food here. Both Oman and England,equally respects women. According to Omanian culture, a married woman retains her family surname, which is an option among English to retain or not to. During marriages, unlike other Asian countries, like India, a man is supposed to pay minimum 9000 dollars to the woman in order to get married. Whereas,as far as I have heard about the Indian culture, it is other way round. So well there are a lot of differences. Being an international student, an exposure to the variety of culture is a great learning procedure.

Q: WHEN NOT STUDYING WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO?

A: Well,I love to read and watch drama,being artistically inclined.Therefore,I spend a lot of time ravaging the historical books whether online or in the library. Occasionally I indulge myself in cooking traditional food as well at my relatives place.

Q: HOW WAS LIFE IN OMAN, BEFORE HEADING TO ENGLAND?

A: Well life then was a 9-5 job under the President of Oman. I am here on a scholarship and
therefore retain my job as well. I worked as an accountant to the President, and yes it is a
position of immense responsibility. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Q: SO TO CONCLUDE, WHAT MESSAGE WOULD YOU LIKE TO PROVIDE OUR
READERS?

A: Well,I have personally seen a lot of people who panic about their disabilities and have lack of confidence to deal with the outside world. I have accepted the fact that I have been accidentally crippled for the rest of my life. I have accepted myself a I am and love the way I am. It is indeed important to first love and accept yourself as you are. There is nothing special or unique about a disabled person. We are like the abled humans and share the same experiences in life. It is important to be content as you are. Be strong and live life independently on a positive note.

Written by Ankita Roy

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