Greetings from the team here at the OM@home blog, a blog about children and young people, written for children and young people . . . .
For young people just like you, about young people who inspire us all at OM HQ.
Young people like Ahmed Kelly . . . .
Born in Baghdad, Ahmed’s childhood could not have been more difficult . . .
Until he turned seven, he called the Mother Teresa Orphanage, in the Iraqi capital, his home. Times there proved tough.
Severe disabilities in all four limbs – this thought to be linked to exposure to chemical weapons in his troubled homeland – left Ahmed unable to do much for himself. He did, at least, have his brother for comfort, although Emmanuel had similar growth deficiencies that left him too with underdeveloped arms and legs. The two boys had each other, but the two boys had little else.
Then one day, in 1998, everything changed.
Visiting the orphanage one morning, Moira Kelly, a humanitarian worker from Australia, took a close interest in Ahmed and Emmanuel.
“I said, ‘Well, you can’t live like this forever,’ she recalls. Two years later, the boys could be found living in Melbourne, Moira having adopted them, the medical resources available in Australia transforming their lives for ever. This touching tale might end there. That it doesn’t – that it takes an even more remarkable twist – is something that inspires us here at OM HQ.
You see, Ahmed put his disabilities to one side and took up Australian Rules Football. This is a bruising sport, for tough, tough competitors. His team-mates called him ‘Nails’, as in ‘hard as’ . . .
In time, being a quadruple amputee, Ahmed began to realize his limitations and, although he hung up his football boots, his sporting ambitions remained undiminished. He took up swimming and he soon began to shine.
So much so that, in recent weeks, Ahmed has been in London, representing Australia at the Paralympic Games. In the 20 years that have passed since he was abandoned – left on an orphanage doorstep, unwanted, in Iraq – so much has happened that it staggers us. Ahmed has made it all happen himself, through his drive and determination. In all this, there is a lesson for us all to learn.
“If you’re determined and you want to reach your goal, you don’t even think about the difficulties,” he explains. “You just want to achieve that goal and you’ll do anything to achieve it. I don’t think I’m unlucky, if anything I’ve been blessed with wonderful opportunities. I’ve just embraced them and given it a crack. That’s all you have to do – give it a crack, whether you win or lose, just give it a go. Who knows what might happen? Never be afraid to give something a go – you’ll gain so much from the attempt.”
Moira, her pride obvious, adds, “Who would ever think, 10 years ago, that we’d be at the London Paralympics and this young boy would be representing our wonderful country and all our wonderful people? All of us are capable of doing great things – maybe this is a reminder. [Ahmed] has grown up [with a focus on] what he can do rather than what he can’t.”
Here at OM HQ, we have nothing but admiration for Ahmed, for Emmanuel and for Moira and we hope this tale inspires you as much as it does us. Just ask yourself this: what could you do?