Afghan migrant makes waves despite being born without arms
Abbas Karimi, a 23-year-old Afghan refugee born without arms is showing the world that determination and perseverance does pay off as he proudly prepares for next year’s Paralympic swimming events in Tokyo.
Speaking to 7News Miami, Karimi described his arduous journey growing up disabled in war-torn Afghanistan, through to being a migrant that fled overland until being settled in the US under the United Nations’ refugee program.
Despite having no arms, #Karimi is a swimmer and trains with his coach and mentor Marty Hendrick in Fort Lauderdale six days a week.
Karimi said: “My father used to say, ‘God took your arms from you, but instead, he gives you the talent and skill in your legs and your feet.’”
“Everything was very challenging to do with my feet and learn everything,” Karimi told 7News Miami.
Karimi said his journey to get to this place in his life – as a swimmer training for the 2021 Paralympic games in #Japan – has been filled with pain and perseverance.
A victim of bullying back home in Afghanistan, he said he did find something that soothed him – swimming – but eventually, he made the difficult decision to leave home.
“It’s tough to leave your family, your father, your mother at the very young age of 16, but I wanted to get out of that world.”
He first went to Iran before his brother helped smuggle him across the border into neighboring #Turkey.
Abbas lived in Turkey as a refugee before being settled in the United States under the United Nations’ refugee program.
Once in the US he first lived and trained in Portland, but moved earlier this year to South Florida where he lives and trains with Hendrick.
“It feels right to be here because I found the right coach,” he said.
Hendrick in turn says he is extremely proud of Karimi and that he trains really hard.
“I feel completely blessed that I have this kid at home,” Hendrick said.
Karimi and Hendrick will travel next summer to Tokyo for the 2021 #Paralympic_Games, where the swimmer is set to compete in several events.