Harun Hassan: A tale of Inspiration and success
By Ali Edin
If you ever thought that life was unfair to you may read the gripping story of Mr. Harun Maalim and how he was able to overcome a life changing accident. Mr. Harun Maalim lived a normal life like any other person but on one fateful day he got involved in a grisly road accident that will confine him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Mr. Harun a former student leader was an administrator before the accident and was on top of the world. Little did he know what was coming his way at the tender age of 28 that will change his life forever.
Mr. Harun was born in 1978 in Dandu location of Mandera County and completed his primary education at Mandera Town Primary school where he emerged top of his class and proceeded to pursue his secondary education at Mandera Secondary School under the support of Starehe Centre. His exemplary performance continued even in high school and he became second best in his class and got admitted to Kenyatta University where he pursued Bachelor degree in Environmental Studies a time that helped him nurture his leadership skills. During his time in the University Mr. Harun was a Vice Chair of the Muslim Association as well as the Secretary General of the then vibrant Northern Province University Students Association (NEPUSA).
Trapped in my own body
It was in 2007 when he was involved in an accident that changed his life forever. He describes it as the most difficult period. In one of his Facebook post he notes with gloom, “On 23rd of March 2007 I was involved in a horrific accident that almost took my life. For a year, I spent my time staring at hospital’s ceilings and another long year completely confined in a bed in our rural home in Kutulo, listening to the cracking sound of iron sheets under the sweltering heat of Mandera sun. Doctors told me I will never walk again. Recovery and adjusting to wheelchair was tough and frustrating, sometimes families and friends thought I wouldn’t make it.”
He managed to overcome the trauma and become an advocate for people living with disability and never looked back. Mr. Harun has been a fighter and the challenges that life threw at him has been his biggest platform for success. He refused to be trapped in his own body and made a decision to walk out and make a huge impact in the society. He says his biggest decision was accepting his situation and he went out there and read so many books to learn more about it.
Harun together with a few of his friends founded Northern Nomadic Disabled Organization (NONDO). NONDO took upon itself to fight for the rights of those living with disability and it has been in the forefront of sensitizing the community to support those vulnerable children who aspire to live a normal life. His advocacy has been championing for the mainstreaming of disability. The Nomadic community has for a long time suffered marginalization and so much so for those living with disability within the society. He has hopes of changing the image and the view people have for this special group and his fight is not yet over. Harun is looking forward to a day when the disabled will be accorded equal opportunity with others not as a charity but as a right enshrined in the constitution.
He remains thankful to the Almighty for what life threw at him and he has never given up hope of that promising future. His book, “Behind The Wheels” launched in 2017 in which he shared his story before and after the accident has inspired so many to look beyond their disability and not let their situation define who they are. To him disability should not define who you are but it should shape you to become better and achieve even greater things.
Today NONDO is hosting its 7th Edition of the Desert Wheel Race in Isiolo; a competitive event that hopes to put Kenya in the World map showcasing talents amongst those with disability and sensitizing the communities. The event will also have a fashion show to showcase the marvelous beauty to let the World know disability doesn’t deny one to be elegant. This year they hope to raise funds to support 35 children living with disability from 7 N. Kenya counties to get full high school scholarship. NONDO also hopes to continue advocating for inclusive lives, homes, services and amenities for children with disabilities. As Mr. Harun gears up for the race he is calling up on friends and families of the disabled to come out on the day and support the cause.