Banyuwangi, Indonesia – Despite being born without legs and with stumps for arms, Achmad Zulkarnain, known as Dzoel to his friends, did not realise how different that made him until he was eight years old when children at school began teasing him about his appearance.
“I found a big mirror. That was when I realised I’m different from everyone else,” he said.
He stopped leaving the house after that, sunk deep in depression.
Eventually, with the support of family and friends, he regained enough confidence to go back to class, later graduating from high school and getting a job running an internet cafe.
“There was a photography service there. I decided to buy a camera on credit. I learned and learned and learned until I became known as a photographer.”
Today, 27-year-old Dzoel dismisses those who label him as disabled. “I’m not disabled. I’m simply a person created in a different way. I have my own way of doing things,” he said.
He has turned his hobby into a profession, gaining thousands of followers on Instagram through his striking landscapes and fashion shoots. His services are in high demand to shoot weddings and school yearbooks.
He also volunteers at a local youth club, teaching camera and photo-editing skills.
To get around on his own, he designed a go-cart style vehicle for himself, adapted to fit his needs. His family and friends helped source the parts and put it together.
Note: This film was originally produced in September 2017. Part 2, which will show how Dzoel’s life has changed since then, will be published next week.
A film by: Hassan Ghani
Editor: Hassan Ghani
Assistant producer: Surya Fachrizal
Translation: Nurfitri Taher
EP: Andrew Phillips