With no arms and the back paralysed, he has overcome disability and discrimination to become a successful painter.
Ibrahim Mallik can paint pictures using his mouth and his works sell at a good price and win competition.
“It is a great pleasure for me that I entered a working life from nothing,” said the 24-year-old. “Today everybody values me, because I am an artist.”
Six years back at Pally Bidyut Samity in Dinajpur, he suffered an electric shock and fell from a power pole.
He was admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital where his both arms were amputated. With his body partly paralysed, he was unable to use legs.
DMCH referred him to Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) in Savar. After eight months at the centre, Ibrahim was cured. He started using wheelchair as he never recovered from spinal cord problems.
Ibrahim’s talent was recognised only three months after he chose mouth painting as the subject to be trained on at the Madhab Memorial Vocational Institute of CRP.
“Satisfied with my performance, CRP kept me here,” said Ibrahim, adding he so far drew over a thousand paintings. Many organisations and individuals bought his works.
A five-star hotel used his paintings as artwork of diaries, while a mobile phone company bought a number of those, said Ibrahim.
Open Day, a two-day annual programme began at the CRP yesterday to demonstrate works of those who were treated and rehabilitated at the centre.
The event is also a platform to create mass awareness, because many do not know the ‘disabled’ can be treated and rehabilitated.
Parveen Akhter, who had problems with spinal cord after falling from the roof at her Mirpur residence years back, became a CRP staff and does embroidery works.
“I move with wheel chair, work and lead a financially independent life,” said Parveen, 24, adding this would not be possible without CRP’s assistance.
Founded in 1979, the CRP has developed into an internationally respected organisation with three sub-centres throughout Bangladesh.
The organisation has a 100-bed hospital that serves 70,000 patients a year. The poor can get the service free of cost, while others at a minimal charge.
The CRP also established Bangladesh Health Professions Institute (BHPI), a pioneer in training of the country’s health professionals. BHPI runs courses up to BSc (Hons) degree and has affiliation with institutions including Dhaka University and Bangladesh State Medical Faculty.
Valerie Taylor, founder and coordinator of the CRP, said most of the patients at the centre are with broken necks and problems of spinal cords, which usually happen due to falling down from heights, carrying heavy head loads and road accidents.
Valerie was granted Bangladeshi citizenship in 1998. “The ‘disabled’ can do better things than others, he said, “just give them confidence and a chance to try.”