When we think about the brilliant minds around the globe the name of Bill Gates, Steve Hawkins pops up into our mind. But a name that outshines them is of a young girl Arfa Karim Randhawa. A Pakistani girl that had shaken the world with her intelligence by attaining the title of the world’s youngest Microsoft certified in 2004. It is an award which given to those who master the program and mostly done by adults to further their careers in the tech field.
Arfa Karim Randhawa was born in 1995 in Faisalabad. At the age of 6, she persuaded her father to get her a computer and from then onwards a journey of a great Microsoft certified Arfa began. She was a computer prodigy, who received her education from Lahore Grammar School. Once she had a computer, she performed some unexpected aptitude using Microsoft programs. Her father upon learning about her extraordinary skills took her to an advanced computer institute nearby. Later she displayed some remarkable memory in terms of programming and in just four months she appeared in the Microsoft exam and aced it at a tender age of 9. The certification she received was of Microsoft Certified Application Developer. She was an all-rounder from being the daughter of a poor person to meeting the world richest person Bill Gates, she has done it all.
She was invited by the American business magnate Bill Gates to visit headquarter of Microsoft in Raymond, USA to have a one-on-one meeting with him. She impressed the employees and people there with her charm and boldness that was uncommon for someone her age. Arfa presented Bill Gates with a poem that celebrated his life story. At that time, S. Soma Segar was the vice president of the Software Development Division wrote on his blog that “The thing that’s exciting to me is her passion for technology at this age”. Her accomplishment was an encouraging sign to the women of Pakistan that have historically struggled to advance.
As the word of accomplishment spread around the country she was called for interview from all the country’s known new channels. She represented Pakistan on many international forum and became a mark of pride for Pakistan, with her aptitude and skill. Arfa was awarded Fatima Jinnah Gold Medal in the field of Science and Technology in 2005 by the President at that time. She also received the President’s Award for Pride of Performance, a high-level civil award granted to those that excel in their respective fields. In November 2006 Arfa was invited to be a part of the keynote session in the Tech-Ed Developers conference held in Barcelona by Microsoft. Themed ‘ahead of the game’, she was the only Pakistani among the 5000 developers.
Pakistanis have tribute Arfa by founding a technology park “SOFTWARE TECHNOLOGY PARK”, the biggest and most advanced IT park in Punjab, in her name. They have also named Computer Lab of Government College of Commerce after her. Arfa also set up and ran a computer training institute for the poor community. Arfa was also made the brand Ambassador for Pakistan Telecommunications company 3G Wireless Broadband service in January 2010.
Arfa suffered cardiac arrest after the epileptic seizure on December 22 and was admitted to Lahore’s Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in a critical condition. Upon learning of Arfa’s condition Bill Gates made contact with Arfa’s parents and directed his doctors to adopt “every kind of measure” for her treatment. He assigned a panel of international doctors to remain in contact with her local doctors. Her family has lauded Bill Gates for offering to bear all her medical expenses. Subsequently, Arfa’s condition improved and her brained showed some signs of improvement. But she fell desperately ill afterward, which damaged her brain and left her in a coma. On January 14, 2012, she passed away at the age of 16, after complications resulting from an epileptic stroke at Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Lahore. She was buried in her ancestral village Faisalabad.
Arfa Karim Randhawa, a name that will live in the hearts of all Pakistanis. Her intelligence is a proof that there is unrecognized potential in millions of young people that is yet to be tapped. Her life is truly an inspiration for the woman in Pakistan, she was a blessing not only for her family but for the whole nation. There are so many things to praise about her not only her high intellect but an equal appetite for art and literature. She left a message around the globe in the form of an interesting quote “if you want to do something big in your life, you must remember that shyness is only in the mind. If you think shy, you act shy. But if you think confident, you act confident. Therefore, never let shyness conquer your mind”. Arfa Karim may be gone but never forgotten, MAY HER SOUL REST IN PEACE.