This Indonesian man was born limbless and was raised in poverty. Yet, neither his disability nor his destitute upbringing was able to prevent him from fulfilling his passion and dream: photography.
Relatively few people really manage to obtain a fulfilling career in life—especially in modern times. Just imagine how much more difficult it would be for someone born with no limbs and from a poor family! Yet, this is exactly what 25-year-old Achmand Zulkarnain from Java, Indonesia has achieved!
Early life wasn’t easy for Achmand. At birth, his mother at first wanted to abandon him out of shame, but thankfully her neighbors stopped her. Yet, that didn’t make it any easier for him later on, as he struggled with poverty and ridicule from his peers growing up.
“It was a rocky childhood. I was taunted and humiliated by children at school,” said Achmand, “There was a time when I tried to take my life.”
“I was in elementary school then. I had a knife and wanted to give up but just when I got it close to my wrist I got scared and dropped the knife.”
In the end, neither his disability, poverty, nor bullying at school was able to bring him down. Despite his harsh experiences in the beginning, the young man persevered and things got better.
In order to help his father make ends meet—his father worked in a motorcycle repair shop earning a meager wage—Achmand started to take ID card photos for people in his village of Banyuwangi. He soon realized that photography was his passion.
“My mother gifted me a camera so I can use it to supplement my father’s income,” said Achmand, “But gradually I started taking interest in photography and decided to learn techniques of professional photography.”
Later, Achmand bought a professional camera and also spent a lot of time on the internet learning how to use it to get the best shots.
“It was definitely not an easy journey. There were challenges but I was determined to face them,” Achmand said. “There was always a risk involved. Most of the nature photography required going up to the hills…I was alone and hiking and holding camera without support was not easy. In fact, I had fallen several times while protecting the camera but I never gave up.”
Fortunately, Achmand was surrounded by friends who always offered to assist him.
“Many photographer friends supported me, they even do. They stand with me and help me whenever needed,” he said.
He eventually became a well-known photographer, receiving many job offers throughout the year. Each photo shoot earns him around US$100.
As they say, ‘Good things come to those who wait,’ and Achmand seems to personify that saying.
“My life has always been about perseverance,” he said.
He now wants to inspire other people with disabilities and urge them not to give up on their dreams.
He added: “I want to tell people with physical shortcomings to never give up.
“We should make our lives best with what God has given us. We should work hard to improve our lives and bring equality among people…We are not disabled but just different people with a different way to work.”