If you read his history, 47 year old Azeem Bolar is the last person you’d imagine as counselor. He is blind, and was born with bronchitis and heart-valve defect. Before he had entered his teens he developed juvenile arthritis. But nothing could stop him.
A life almost lost to blindness
At 17, the India born Bolar trained as a hotelier in Strasbourg, France, and earned his Post-Graduate degree in Hotel Management in London. He then returned to India to join the Oberoi in Bangalore. It was now that he began losing his sight, and he had to resign. Bolar then set up a fast-food takeaway business, but he was almost blind by now.
Becoming a “vegetable”
Since his parents lived in Uganda, that’s where he went. Still ambitious about the hotel business, he bought a beautiful 5-acre property to set up a restaurant. He was then diagnosed with meningitis, and then with cerebral malaria, and had his first paralytic attack afterwards. A neurological stroke took away his eyesight and left him paralyzed.
“The doctors declared me brain-dead. They told my parents that I would be a vegetable, that I would never be able to walk or talk, that I would be confined for the rest of my life to a wheelchair. But God has blessed me with great willpower. I told myself that I just had to get on my feet, come what may, and that’s exactly what I did!”, Bolar told The Better Indian.
Choosing to fight – by helping others
Instead, Bolar chose to fight, and not choose a life of premature retirement. Since he could now use his experience to help others, that’s what he did! He signed up for counseling courses from Bangalore’s Banjara Academy and then followed these up with courses in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Hypnotherapy, Gestalt Therapy and Reiki, and then acquired an MS in Counseling and Psychotherapy from Kuvempu University, Karnataka. He spent the next few years professionally counseling at Aditi Technologies (as a consultant counselor), working from home and and volunteering as a Counselor at Banjara Academy’s free counseling centre.
He has touched hundreds of lives with his strength and willpower, and helps people face trauma, depression, family conflicts, drug abuse, low self-esteem and other issues. And he hasn’t stopped moving forward – this year, he became Dr. Azeem Bolar after a Ph.D. from the Indian Virtual University. He was also conferred the National Federation of the Blind’s Best Professional Award and the Cavin Kare Award for Achievement Against All Odds.
This is, in his words, his way of staying strong: “When faced with an adverse situation, my immediate response is to think of how to overcome it. Instead of lamenting about it and demanding to know, ‘Why did this happen to me?’ I ask myself, ‘What I can do in the given situation to make things better?’ So, when I began going blind, I didn’t ask myself ‘Why me?’ Rather, I thought, ‘What can I do, being in this condition?’ I never cried over what had happened to me. I didn’t blame God for going blind. How could I blame God when God has given me so many other potentials that I can use to face any situation? How could I crib about the eyesight I had lost when God has given me so many other resources? In fact, I realized that through this condition God was giving me new insights—into how to help others. If I hadn’t gone blind, I would never have known what a blind man feels.”