Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing Wali as part of a London Marathon Cover shoot for New Balance & Runner's World.
His courageous story touched my heart, so I'm sharing a little of that with you today. If you'd like to support Wali, the there's a link at the end here.
On September 12 2009, whilst working as a translator with the British army in his homeland of Afghanistan, his world was shattered.
‘The Taliban, who had been watching our movements, detonated an ‘IED’ (improvised explosive device), killing and injuring several members of the military personnel – both Afghans and foreigners,’ says Wali. ‘I have a clear recollection of the moments that followed. After the initial explosion I was lying on my back, thinking I was ready to leave this earth.’
‘The explosion was followed by an attack on the survivors, but I realised I had to sit up or I would suffocate from the blood running into my lungs. Once inside the emergency helicopter, I lay down and the world went blank.’
After several days in a coma, Wali woke up at a Kabul hospital in pitch darkness. ‘Then I realised the darkness would remain for a lifetime,’ he says.
In 2014, Wali received a life-changing offer of political asylum and relocated to the UK.
Determined to start over, he was given the opportunity to run again - something he was passionate about in his school days.
Wali now has several guide runners and was able to build his fitness to take on the London Marathon with Help for Heroes. It doesn’t stop there though – he’s also been selected for the Invictus Games 2020.
‘My story could have been written by countless people – stories equally heroic and tragic,’ says Wali. ‘I would like to represent all those who have gone unheard and who have, like me, sacrificed their health and in many cases their lives, for our beloved homeland. And I would like to inspire others to trust in their ability to achieve great things.’
You can support Wali’s fundraising at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/walinoori