The most important thing in ANY STRUGGLE is never to lose hope. Once you choose hope, anything is possible. Umar chose hope, he’s not a survivor, Umar is a warrior.
When tragedy strikes, we try to maintain a sense of normality until we no longer can. That, my friends, is called surviving not healing because we never become whole again.
A part of us perish along with our sense of security, but somehow we still pick up the remaining pieces and we move on – not everyone does anyway; I mean not all of us are that strong. If you are STILL here today after all the bomb blasts and massacre, YOU ARE A SURVIVOR. There are those who made it through the journey of consistently endless and excruciating pain and are still standing strong, still living, still beaming with joy, and at the same time very content with their lives. These ones must certainly bear a different name – WARRIORS!
LITERALLY, survival sounds like something blew in and out in a moment, like a storm, and somehow you made it through. Umar’s was no storm; it was and is still a journey, a journey through pain, one that changed his life forever.
Umar was a normal healthy kid, like a lot of us. He could walk, PLAY FOOTBALL (which was his passion), dance, stand and pray and a lot of other things until he lost all that in a tragic car accident two years ago. On the 18th July 2013 Umar left Gusau for Zaria with his Dad and he didn’t come back home the way he left. Umar Ibrahim Wambai is in his early twenties, a vibrant passionate footballer. He hails from Zamfara State.
Despite everything that’s happened to Umar, he’s not letting it define him. Umar is currently doing his Msc in Leeds University, UK. When I asked him how being in a wheelchair made him feel. Umar said he’s happy, he’s never been happier in his entire life, not even when he was on the pitch doing what he loved most. Umar had wonderful things to say about his family. Their love and support keeps him grounded. But Umar had this to say about his mum;
Always there at the top with me, and with open arms ready to hold me at the bottom. She silently shouts her encouragement from wherever she is, and I always feel it, and smile FROM WITHIN AND OUT. She is number one fan. Through sorrow and grief, through happiness and peace, I was NEVER alone. My habibty, the woman I love. My Mother, without whom there will be no Umar Wambai. SHE IS THE WARRIOR. Watching me in pain day and night through the years, with no sign of weakness or any decrease in the care and help she rendered me.
Whatever strength I seem to have, I got from her. I wouldn’t have chosen another person to be my mum even if I could. She’s everything to me and more. She is my RIZQ”
Umar Ibrahim Wambai doesn’t consider himself a warrior. According to him his Mother is the real warrior and I should be writing about her, not him. He may be the one in the wheelchair, but she’s the one carrying all the pain.
But to me Umar Wambai is a WARRIOR. Warriors are people who have gone through a great amount of trials themselves, and have gained their own strength through those struggles. These are what I like to call super powers – the ability to overcome those moments that cut deep, and to turn them into power.
These people are rare. They look at you and see beyond all of the horrible things you see on the surface. They help you learn to breathe again, and to find your voice again. They can bear witness to horrible things and feel the same pain you feel inside. Umar is all that and so much more. Umar has more patience and more compassion than I have ever known in my life.
He was a very good friend when he was on his feet and an even better friend when he lost both his legs. There was no limit to the length he could go for his friends. He had everyone’s back, and it’s no surprise he didn’t even have to watch his own back – everyone had his. And being the strong loving person that he is, he acquired even more friends. Everyone that came in contact with him adored him – and it’s still so. With that being said, imagine what his friends went through seeing him lose his legs. What they are probably still going through. Imagine how and what they feel seeing the spinal cord of the circle in a wheelchair. It’s only natural for his loved ones; with the way they all adore him, to want to grill him with pity but not with Umar.
He’s the type of person that assures everyone he’s alright even when you can clearly see that he’s not. He, in whatever state he finds himself, takes it upon himself to make everyone comfortable. He is one to always give hope even when he can’t find any to hang on to himself, but then again, he always does. He believes in hope – never for one day gave up on it. Every day he sits in his wheelchair and he makes people with both legs comfortable, he touches so many lives in ways not every standing man can, he carries his million dollar smile wherever he goes and he completes complete people not because life hasn’t given him enough reasons to give up on hope, but because that’s what he is – someone who never gave up and who will never give up on hope. And that is what makes him a hero and ….and a warrior in one skin.
Thank you Umar Ibrahim Wambai for sharing your story.. May Allah in his infinite mercy grant you the ability to walk again…
Ziya’atulhaqq Usman Tahir