The Courage to Dream: Conquering Mount Everest

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By Vibrant Dot Staff

Do you dare to climb Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak at 8,850m above sea level?

Taming Mount Everest has long been an endeavour sought after by many intrepid travellers, but the treacherous terrain, situated in the Mahalangur mountain range in Nepal and Tibet, is also a deadly zone that has claimed many lives. To date, hundreds of climbers have buried themselves and their dreams on the “mountain of extremes”.

Conquering Mount Everest is also the biggest motivation for Singapore’s blade runner and inspirational speaker, Md Shariff Abdullah Peters.

On the day I met Shariff, he was preparing to embark on his trip to the ‘roof of the world’ the next morning.

At first glance, Shariff looks so sturdy and muscular with an aura of positivity that it’s hard to realise he is wearing a prosthetic leg. He was born without a left foot and five inches of his left stump was amputated in 2008 due to a skin infection.

“People think that a person can walk normally wearing a prosthetic leg, but actually, it’s very difficult. It’s hard to sit properly, and when you stand for too long, you will get pain and so on,” he said.

He handed me his business card, which reads: “COURAGE. The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”

And that is the focus of his life: Courage.

His Story

Sharriff: I was born on November 10, 1968 without a left foot, and my biological mother left me and my dad soon after.

Life was not easy as a disabled boy. All I could do was to hop and crawl with one leg. People would laugh or bully me because of my disability. They would even throw stones at me or spit at me.

My father scrimped and saved to buy me a prosthetic leg so that I could walk like other kids. I had my first prosthetic leg (it was a cane design) in 1975, and I began my education at Rosyth School.

In 1977, my dad passed away after a devastating accident. To make matters worse, my foster mother passed away in 1978. Life was getting even tougher after they were gone. I was being kicked like a ball by my relatives as I was a burden to them due to my disability.

In 1980, I had a reunion with my biological mother. She was remarried and had two other children. She was living a frugal life, selling nasi-lemak in the kampong. I chose to stop school after Primary 8 in order to help her sell nasi-lemak.

After selling nasi-lemak for two years, I was telling myself, “How long do I want to sell nasi-lemak in the kampong? I want to be a successful person. I want to make things happen. I want to get married and have children. I have a future.”

I decided to make a change.

I quit selling nasi-lemak, and started looking for a job which was not easy as no one would accept my disability. Regrettably, I had to lie about my physical disability in order to be hired. I had worked as a cleaner, site security officer, private investigator, bodyguard as well as a bouncer at a Thai club.

Everyone is beautiful. Each individual is born a champion, but you need to search within yourself to find that champion in you.

Singaporeís blade runner and inspirational speaker, Md Shariff Abdullah Peters

I met my beautiful wife in March 1992 and we got married shortly. I have three daughters: my eldest is 23 years old, my second is 21 years old, and my youngest is 16 years old.

His Trauma

Shariff: Life was going on well until December 2008, when I had a skin infection in my stump area. The doctor amputated five inches of my stump on Dec 22. That was the most distressed moment in my whole life. I was absolutely shattered and crestfallen. I was thinking, “Who will be feeding my family? What am I going to do?”

I felt hopeless [being wheelchair-bound]. My life was gone, I thought.

Until one day, I came across Oscar Pistorius on YouTube. I was emboldened by him. Though he had both legs amputated, he was a sprint runner. I thought, “I want to learn from him. I want to run. I want to inspire people and stop wasting my time by being hopeless.”

It took me three months to recover from my surgery due to my positive mindset. As soon as I got my new Ossur flex-run leg, I went to the stadium and started running.

[It is true that ‘life changes at 40’.] I saw my potential in running and a lot of people supported my dream. Gradually, I become known as Singapore’s blade runner.

Since then, I have participated in over 25 marathons worldwide; the most memorable was the prestigious Boston Marathon in the USA.

Besides running, I have this dream of climbing mountains. I am inspired by Mark Inglis, the world’s first double amputee to conquer the Mount Everest summit, and my late father whose job was climbing up the hill in Bukit Timah to fix the explosives to clear the way for the Pan Island Expressway.

I was galvanised by them and I set the goal to climb Everest not because of myself, but to inspire everyone!

Through my Mount Everest expedition, I also hope to raise funds for Club Rainbow, which has been supporting my youngest daughter who is suffering from liver cirrhosis. When I reach the base camp, I wish to sit alone and rejoice in the beauty created by nature and the Creator.

His Dream

Sharriff: I have a dream.

But my DREAM stands for: D – determination, R – resilience, E – envision, A – attitude, and M – mission.

When you have this ‘D R E A M’, you can achieve everything in life.

His Inspirational Words

Shariff: Stay positive. Life is so beautiful today, tomorrow or the day after.

Since young, due to my disability, I had been teased and was treated with contempt, but whenever I woke up in the morning, I set myself a goal to achieve. And at night before going to sleep, I prayed and forgave everyone who had hurt me.  “Never mind. Just forgive them, be happy and smile.”

Singaporeís blade runner and inspirational speaker, Md Shariff Abdullah Peters. Born without a left foot, he embarked on his Mount Everest expedition in May 2016.

I’d like to pass this message to everyone:

Everyone is the same, yet different. By helping someone, we can change someone’s life.

Everyone is beautiful. Each individual is born a champion, but you need to search within yourself to find that champion in you.

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