Sunday, 24 April 2016

Arfa Karim Randhawa - Daughter of the Nation

Arfa Karim, Youngest Microsoft Certified Professional,Pride of Pakistan

You were there for your country, you made your country proud. You were the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional till 2008. We miss you Arfa. 

Arfa Karim Randhawa, the computer programming prodigy who became the world’s youngest Microsoft Certified Professional at 9 years old. Arfa represented Pakistan on various international forums including the TechEd Developers Conference. She also received the President's Award for Pride of Performance. The Arfa Software Technology Park, a science park in Lahore, was named after her. She visited Microsoft Headquarters in the United States after being invited from Bill Gates. 

Arfa Karim was applauded for her sheer brilliance at national and international forums. S. Somasegar, the vice president of Microsoft's Software Development Division, wrote about her in his blog. On 2 August 2005, Arfa was presented the Fatimah Jinnah Gold Medal in the field of Science and Technology by the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Shaukat Aziz on the occasion of the 113th anniversary of the birth of Fatima Jinnah. She also received the Salaam Pakistan Youth Award again in August 2005 from the President of Pakistan. Arfa is also the recipient of the President's Award for Pride of Performance, a civil award usually granted to people who have shown excellence in their respective fields over a long period of time. She is the youngest recipient of this award. Arfa was made brand ambassador for Pakistan Telecommunication Company's 3G Wireless Broadband service, "EVO", in January 2010.

Arfa represented Pakistan on various international forums and was invited by the Pakistan Information Technology Professionals Forum for a stay of two weeks in Dubai. A dinner reception was hosted for her there, which was attended by the dignitaries of Dubai including the Ambassador of Pakistan. During that trip, Arfa was presented with various awards and gifts including a laptop. In November 2006, Arfa attended the Tech-Ed Developers conference themed Get ahead of the game held in Barcelona on an invitation from Microsoft. She was the only Pakistani among over 5000 developers in that conference.

In 2011, at the age of 16, Arfa was studying at the Lahore Grammar School Paragon Campus in her second year of A-levels. On 22 December 2011, she suffered a cardiac arrest after an epileptic seizure that damaged her brain and was admitted to Lahore's Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in critical condition.

On 9 January 2012, Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, contacted Arfa's parents and directed his doctors to adopt "every kind of measure" for her treatment. Gates set up a special panel of international doctors who remained in contact with her local doctors through teleconference. The panel received details about her illness and provided assistance in diagnosis and treatment. Local doctors dismissed the option of moving Arfa to another hospital owing to her being on a ventilator and in critical condition. Members of Arfa's family have lauded Bill Gates for offering to bear her treatment expenses.

On 13 January 2012, Arfa started to improve and some parts of her brain showed signs of improvement. Her father, Amjad Abdul Karim Randhawa, said Microsoft had raised the possibility of flying Arfa to the U.S. for care.

Arfa died in hospital in Lahore on 14 January 2012, aged 16. Her funeral, which was held on the following day, was attended by the Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif. She was buried at her ancestral village Chak No. 4JB Ram Dewali, Faisalabad.

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