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How Iraqi Refugee Ahmed Shareef Defied Tragedy and Disabilities to Become a Musician

Presented in partnership with Visible: Ahmed Shareef didn't let being an Iraqi refugee left permanently disabled by the war conflict, and personal tragedies define the path of his life.

“I didn’t know that piano players need two hands,” he stated. “When I was little I sat at a piano with one hand and since then I was like, ok, I have only one hand, and I want to play.”

After seeking refuge in the U.S., Ahmed rebuilt his life as a one-handed blind person. Navigating this completely new world wasn't easy, but he got through it with the unwavering support of his brother and family.

A medical relief fund in the U.S. turned it all around for Ahmed. He was able to receive treatment and was taken in by the charity's founder, who he says is more like family to him now.

Eventually, Ahmed discovered his passion for music — he learned how to play the piano, trumpet, and drums. Through songwriting and performing, Ahmed learned to share his stories and inspire others to survive and find  happiness in their own lives. Now he's a working musician with disabilities in the U.S.

Ahmed is a survivor in every sense of the word, and is using his gifts to make the world a more joyful, musical place.

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