By ANISAH ARIF
A 44-year-old blind man has set up his own travel firm to allow blind people to travel the world.
Amar Latif recently set up his own travel company, Traveleyes, for serving both blind and sighted travellers.
“After 7 years, working in the corporate world, I had money to spend but no travel company wanted to take it. They just kept saying I needed a carer to travel. I’m a blind professional. I can pack my bags.
“I decided if you’re passionate about something you have to do something about it. So I decided to set up the first world’s travel company that would enable blind people to see the world”.
Established in 2005, Traveleyes was set up for Blind travellers so that they would not need to be accompanied by family when they want to be solo, rather with other disabled people. The holidays focus on stimulating all five senses, to provide a truly unique experience.
Amar wasn’t born blind. The Pakistani man grew up visually impaired, wearing thick glasses all his childhood. His parents were already told the devastating news by the doctor that he would be incurably blind in his teenage years.
The reason given by the doctor was due to his parents being blood related. Amar, angry and frustrated, did not know what to do.
“I remember waking up and I couldn’t see pictures and walking around crashing into things, not being able to see my family. I didn’t want to be blind, but I realised that I am. I was kind of just wishing that I could give it to someone else so I could be myself. I was a bit depressed about it. I didn’t know what to do. It felt like the world had ended”.
After battling a few months of depression, he suddenly decided to change his outlook on the world.
“After that I realised it’s not going to get me anywhere, so I decided to do the best that I can. Life is too short, you just have to make the most of it. Either you can worry about things and act like your life’s over or you can push yourself out your comfort zone, and do incredible things. And as I started to do that, I found that life is amazing”.
Despite this, Amar’s parents persuaded him to attend University. Amar successfully achieved a Maths, Statistics and Finance degree in a multi-award winning university, The University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland.
“I always wanted to be an accountant. At the beginning it was hard, maths and blindness, not many people have done this before. Back in the 1990’s I was using the cassettes and recording my stuff on tape”.
“When you become blind, everyone around wants to constantly do things for you, and kept saying “you can’t do this or can’t do that”. I was becoming tired of it, and I realised i don’t want to be wrapped in cotton wool and live in a protective box. So against the wishes of my lecturers and my parents, I left to study abroad in Canada, and it was the best year of my life. I remember my mum crying in the airport.
“But I became resilient and strong. I did my final year. I was ready to tackle the world”.
The 44-year-old laughed and told us he ‘got on the wrong train’ when asked his decision for moving to Yorkshire. The truth was, after graduating, Amar got a job as a graduate accountant with BT based in Leeds and has been hailing from Yorkshire ever since.
After leaving the job and kick-starting his own company, the British-born has climbed his way to success.
Recently, he took part in a challenging BBC TV documentary, River Walks – A Nidderdale Adventure. The programme sees him joined by a guide on a 13 mile trek, which he abseiled into a hidden canyon, canoed across a vast reservoir and swam through icy waters, as he discovered how the landscape the River Nidd has been shaped over the years.
“Normally usually associate scenery and walking programmes from a sighted perspective. It was interesting to show people, if you’re blind you can get more out of things than people who can see. You have to interact with the environment. I abseiled into a gorge. You end up doing things, people wouldn’t normally do. You do get a richer experience”.
He describes his siblings as ‘three blind mice’ as his brother and sister are also blind but all have successful jobs in London.
However, the Pakistani man believes his Asian background held him back from achieving his full potential.
“The Asian world is 40-50 years behind. People always feel sorry for you. English attitudes want to enable you to achieve things, focusing on your abilities. Asian people always feel sorry for you, but not in a bad way”
Amar continued to hold a positive and happy outlook on all aspects of his life. From moving to the other side of the United Kingdom, and setting up his own business rooted from his personal passion.
Talking about other people with disabilities facing problems, he said: “Life is too short. They should create a positive mindset; focus on what you can do. Do whatever you take to get there. If you want a job, make sure you get it. Convince the employer you can do it.
“Have a positive mindset, do what you need to do to achieve your dreams, and do it!”.