Everyone sets out goals in life to achieve. For some, they may include getting higher grades. Others may be looking forward to buying a new car. But for little Arfa Karim, they began with becoming a Microsoft Certified Professional! Now I don’t know whether she had it particularly in mind or not (no one will ever know), the fact is, with her talent and abilities, she made possible what we could even think of!
If you are a Pakistani, and you don’t know who Arfa Karim was, then where have you been?? Arfa Karim was a young Pakistani Student who became the youngest MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional) in 2004 at a mere nine years of age! To think that I was playing games at that age! (still do :P) But she was busy achieving her goals. The owner of Microsoft, Bill Gates, invited her personally to visit the Microsoft Headquarters in U.S.A.
Arfa was born in Faisalabad, Pakistan in 1995. From an early age, (earlier than 9, that is), Arfa started showing interest in Computer Programming and Software Development. She learnt to program in the C# programming language (Microsoft’s version of the very popular C/C++ programming languages). She designed some basic applications for windows like Calculator, sorting tools, etc.
She received the MCP status in 2004. In 2005, Bill Gates invited her personally for a visit at Microsoft. In the same year, she was awarded with the Fatima Jinnah Gold Medal in the field of Science and Technology by The Government of Pakistan. This is a big achievement in itself. But the list goes on! She also received the Salam Pakistan Youth Award in 2005 from the President of Pakistan. The President also awarded her with the Pride of Performance Award, a civil award usually granted to people who have shown excellence in their respective fields over a long period of time.
Arfa has represented Pakistan on a number of International forums as well. She was invited by the Pakistan’s IT Professionals Forum for a two-week stay in Dubai. A dinner reception was held for her hosting some of the dignitaries of Dubai. During the visit, she was awarded various medals and gifts from the local IT companies. Interestingly, she was also certified for flying a plane at a flying club in Dubai at the age of 10.
In 2006, Microsoft invited her to the Tech-Ed Developers Conference held in Barcelona and themed “Get ahead of the game”, where she was the only Pakistani among some 5,000 other developers!
Arfa Karim was suffering from epilepsy, Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which a person has repeated seizures (convulsions) over time. Seizures are episodes of disturbed brain activity that cause changes in attention or behavior. At the age of 16, she was studying at Lahore Grammar School, Lahore, doing her A levels (second year). On December 22nd, an epilepsy seizure left her brain-damaged. As a result, she suffered a cardiac arrest at a very young age of 16. She was immediately admitted to CMH (Combined Military Hospital) in Lahore in critical condition.
Bill Gates provided full support to her family, setting up a committee of doctors to communicate with Arfa’s local doctors. Taking her abroad for treatment was not possible as her condition was critical. On 13th January 2012, she showed signs of improvement. This sparked hope among her family and well wishers.
Call it the cruelty of fate, or name it destiny’s choice; either way, our shining star was ripped from our hands and cast into the shadowy darkness that is eternal death in this world. Hence, Arfa Karim passed into the void on 14th of January, 2012.
Her death comes as a great loss, not only to her family, but to the whole of Pakistan. The whole Pakistani nation mourns the tragic loss of a valued jewel. Our country needs people like Arfa to up-lift its global image, and act as a beacon of hope for the millions of Pakistani people. Her loss will always be remembered and mourned.
Arfa might have gone, but in the words of her father “she is still alive, as her cause is alive”. She has left behind a legacy that needs to be followed. And be followed, it will. It is now up to people like YOU to bear the standard for the development and progress of our nation. Understand this, and be inspired!