#NADHandwave: December 2013

baker ali

The NAD uses the monthly #NADHandwave recogition as an opportunity to recognize an individual who has contributed greatly to the betterment of the deaf community. This month’s #NADHandwave goes to Abubakar “Bakar” Ali, who is very deserving of this recognition.

Bakar is currently finishing up his last year at the Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf (RIT/NTID), studying Urban and Community Studies and International Studies double major in RIT’s College of Liberal Arts. He was born in Somalia and helped establish the Somali Deaf Union, the first Somali organization for deaf individuals in his country. It later developed into the Somali National Association of the Deaf (SNAD), and he served as its president.

As you first meet Bakar, you will immediately note his love for education despite his experience growing up in a war-torn country. He fought to get an education in Somalia, a place where no school wanted to enroll a deaf student.

He is known for his positive attitude and contagious work ethics. He shares his passion among his peers in the millennial generation and demonstrates all the excitement and engagement they have to bring into the academic arena. His unforgettable “Halley’s Comet jolting-smile” uplifts those around him.

The hallmark of Bakar’s character is his enthusiasm to serve others well, under all circumstances. He approaches everyone with compassion, and is always willing to go beyond to get his work done. He believed everyone’s life experience ought to be the most useful and the most memorable. He has showed us every day that we do not have to be anyone beyond who we are.

Bakar continues to seize every opportunity to make a difference – whether it was with the Muslim Student Association, as a Senator with Student Government, initiating a new program such as “Make a Friend” (a mentoring program to help first year students adjust at RIT), AmeriCorps, or even with several off-campus volunteer organizations – he never wavers his commitment to the community.

When asked why he invests so much into community service when he could easily spend more time on his studies (especially with a double major), his answer:

I truly enjoy working with others and in the service of the community. My OWN experience demands it, having dealt with many of the obstacles that the communities I serve are confronting; I once was homeless; I have been denied simply because of my deafness; being from Somalia I have experienced wars, violence and starvation. My past experience has shaped me, sharpened my sympathy for those who need help, and taught me the importance of being compassionate and to care about our community. I believe that personal success depends on community success, and without a strong community where everyone gets the respect and the assistant they need, you will not have a community.

His future plans include earning a Ph.D before returning back to Somalia to improve the lives of deaf individuals there. He is simply a man that keeps on giving. He’s a blogger, so you can follow him as he continues his journey.

The NAD was established in 1880 by deaf leaders who believed in the right of the American deaf community to use sign language, to congregate on issues important to them, and to have its interests represented at the national level. As a nonprofit federation, the mission of the NAD is to preserve, protect, and promote the civil, human, and linguistic rights of deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States. The advocacy scope of the NAD is broad, covering the breadth of a lifetime and impacting future generations in the areas of early intervention, education, employment, health care, technology, telecommunications, youth leadership, and more.

Thank you for doing all the work you do Bakar, congratulations again on receiving this month’s #NADHandwave!