Omar Harrinanan
“Do not give up on yourself”

Omar Harrinanan, a young man wearing a black sweater with his hands in his pocket, standing in front of a wall wearing a black mask

Omar Harrinanan has a keen interest in anything tech-related. He spends a significant amount of time seeking out knowledge that relates to his two passions, information technology and gaming. Many hours are spent learning from his favourite YouTube channel, Linus Tech Tips, and one of the things he really hopes to do one day is to build his own computer.

The fact that Omar is visually impaired is no deterrent. Now 20 years old, he has become used to not having full use of his sight. When he was 9, he experienced retinal detachment after a child bumped into him at school, leaving him completely blind in his right eye. In his left eye, there is partial retinal detachment and Strabismus (crossed eye), rendering him with very low vision, but Omar is unfazed.

His determination to succeed at whatever he chooses to do was profoundly reflected in his results at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination on his island on Trinidad and Tobago. Omar performed exceptionally well, earning A’s and B’s in English, Spanish, Mathematics, Human and Social Biology, Accounting and Social Studies. He earned distinctions in Information Technology and Principles of Business. Omar is understandably proud of this achievement but modestly admits that the success he enjoys today is not attributable to him only, but to the strong support system of teachers, student aids, friends and family.

Positivity and an infectious sense of humour are his constant companions. Laughter is inevitable when one speaks to Omar and you can’t help but notice the depth of his confidence and determination to succeed. He admits that his family is not wealthy and so resources available to him are not many, but he will continue to pursue his education and knows that a career in the technology industry will one day become a reality.

Good humor and an upbeat personality are what you see when interacting with Omar, but he does admit that many disappointments have littered his path over the years. Mental resilience has seen him through them all but he is still working on accepting that there are some things he won’t be able to do, like get a driver’s license, for instance, which he really wishes was possible.

Independence is important to Omar and the fact that society does not seem to consider the needs of the blind and visually impaired is the source of much frustration, seemingly, “society wants to restrict people who are blind from experiencing certain things,” he said, but nevertheless, he is able to maintain a social connection and outings with his friends.

Over the years, he has learned to appreciate the small things in life, but there are some activities he wants to experience such as run a 5K marathon, go hiking and one day travel the world. With his love for anime, Japan is his first destination choice. A trip to Europe comes a close second.

With so many plans for his future, Omar approaches each day with deliberation. Education is key to all of this and a precursor to employment, therefore, his current Advanced Level academic pursuits at the Bishop Anstey and Trinity College East (BATCE) is paramount.

He will have a career in the tech field. He will build his own computer. He will participate in a marathon. He will go hiking. It is all possible. And his advice to people – with or without a disability – “even if it seems like family, friends or the world has given up on you, don’t give up on yourself. No recognition from anyone is needed. Do not give up on yourself!”