Ali Rishab tells us his story of progressing at work and enjoying a successful international career, and settling down with his wife and children.
Hi, my name is Ali. I'm from Sri Lanka, I am 48 years old and I'm married with three kids. Professionally I am an accountant currently working in Dubai, and I have had a stammer since I was a child.
During my childhood I did not feel anything about stammering but I remember my parents and relatives being worried about it, seeing my stammer as a weakness. But unfortunately they did not have the proper knowledge or guidance to take me for medical treatment. I would like to give thanks to my parents because they did not treat me and my siblings any differently.
School & university
When I started school I suffered lot. Most of the students teased me and therefore I only had a few friends. I couldn't participate in any staged events because of my stammer and was purposefully avoided by the teachers. But I performed well in my education and in other activities like writing short stories and poems, and I finished school with top grades in all subjects. I then went on to University.
During my University life my stammering didn't bother me much. At this age, most of the other students had matured and weren't like school children. In addition to this I fortunately made some true friends who motivated and helped me.
When I left University I went for my first job interview at the Sri Lanka Air Force with a lot of dreams. But unfortunately I think I was rejected because of my stammer. That was a shock and I felt like a failure. However, that did not stop me in my job hunt and after a few months I got a position as a Junior Executive at a five-star hotel in Colombo. I found working there difficult for two reasons, firstly because I was an employee from a minority community, and secondly because I had a communication disability.
Now I don't worry... I have accepted that I have difficulties with my speech, but I perform my work very well... I am enjoying life at the moment.
Both these factors affected my career at the hotel and I could not enjoy a healthy working environment there. However, I worked there for almost three years before deciding to move to another country. Accordingly, I then joined the Saad Specialist Hospital in Saudi Arabia as an accountant and fortunately the working environment there was much better and I worked with people of over 30 nationalities. I spent almost 10 years at the hospital and after that I worked for several companies elsewhere in Saudi Arabia as well as in Qatar and the UAE. I would like to point out that during my life abroad I did not face much isolation or discrimination because of my stammer. I progressed and now I am a Senior Accountant/Internal Auditor and I am happy with my communication at present.
In our customs, we have two types of marriage: the first is a 'Love' marriage and the second is an 'Arranged' marriage. Mine was a Love marriage. Before I got married, my wife and I had a close relationship for almost 10 years. During this period, my soon-to-be wife said that she did not recognise that I stammered. I did not why and how. But after we got married in 1999 she started to notice it. She worried about it a lot and hesitated to introduce me to her relatives and friends. This attitude continued for two years but we continued our marriage and now she is much more understanding.
I have three children: two girls, aged 19 and 12, and a boy, aged 17, who are all at school. I am proud to say that I never experienced any discrimination from my kids and they never hesitate to introduce me as their father among their friends.
Finally, I would like to say that now I don't worry about what I cannot get and what I cannot reach. I have accepted that I have difficulties with my speech. But I perform my work very well and I have developed my skills in technical writings, data analysis and research projects. I am enjoying life at the moment and I thank God for that.