This story was written by Mayisha Akbar’s son Khafir
My name is Khafra Akbar. I lived the first few years of my life in Harbor City. I attended Normont Elementary and then transferred to Lomita Magnet. My grades were good. When we moved to Compton I saw the differences in the quality of the schools. It was really a change for me and not for the better. My mother, Mayisha Akbar, moved my brother, sister and me to an area in Compton where you could have horses and hoped to live in a better environment. It turned out to be life changing for me. I wanted to be a cowboy. I enjoyed our horses and also watched a lot of bull riding. The first time my mom took us to the Bill Picket Rodeo, I stayed down at the bull pens, watching, listening. I made up my mind; I wanted to be a pro bull rider. In middle school I played flag football, because I kept my grades up. I loved the game, so I signed up for junior midget football for the Carson Colts and was excited to have one of my classmates on my team. We would caravan to practice, have sleep overs and help each other prepare for games. I thought we were friends until one day at school he told me he was joining a gang. I asked him why? He said, “ he can kick it with the homies, but told me not to worry because he wouldn’t be trippin on me…” which meant he was not going to come after me when he became a gang member. I told him, I didn’t think joining a gang was cool. He said “ that’s because you live on the other side of the street. My gang don’t get along with your side, so we don’t get along.” Then he just walked away into that lifestyle. We stopped being friends after that. I told my mom about my friend and she said, “You can’t make decisions for everybody. You just make the best decision you can.” My mom thought she made the best decision to move from Harbor City, but problems are everywhere. I involved myself with horses instead of gangs. I was excited because we always had places to go, like camping, parades, trail rides and play days. I even tried to follow up on the bull riding by attending the world champion Charlie Sampson Bull riding classes. This class would help prepare me for Pro Bull Riding. I also thought a lot about pro football. While I thought about my future, I continued to ride horses around my neighborhood. All the kids wanted to ride too. I knew I had to feed the horses after riding, so I told them if they helped to feed and clean stalls, they could ride. I would ride my friends behind me on my horse, but they wanted to ride by themselves. I asked my mom about it and she said the kids could only ride in the arena after they did some horse chores. Then came High School. After school one day, I was riding my bike and decided to take a short cut home. When I cut through the corner gas station near my house, which was considered gang turf, I heard gun shots. I didn’t know the shots were meant for me, but I was hit twice, once in the back and was knocked off my bike. As I lay there thinking this was it for me, I saw the bullets still hitting the ground around me. I am grateful one of my friends swerved his car around the corner and rescued me that day. The neighbors heard the gunshots and rushed outside to wrap me in towels to stop the bleeding. It seemed like forever for the ambulance to arrive. I remember the trip to Martin Luther King Hospital was a very bumpy ride and so was my stay there. Forty two days in the critical care unit where I had multiple surgeries to my left leg. Amputation was recommended, but I wouldn’t let them take my leg. Instead, leg muscle was removed and I was able to keep my leg, but I have never been the same. Through out my hospital stay, I felt special every time I woke up there were more cards, flowers, family and friends supporting me, but it was my mom who kept the ranch going, daily working her regular job and tending to the feeding and care of the horses. I asked a few friends to stop by and help her. When I came home from the hospital, still not able to walk, all I wanted to do was sit all day watching the horses run and kick up their heels, running free. When my mom asked why I just wanted to sit with the horses, I told her I felt like I wanted to get away and being with the horses is where I can get away. Right now, while I am speaking to you, a kid who rode with the Jr. Posse, Tracy Dean, is in the hospital. Shot 8 times, he was a victim of gang activity that haunts our community everyday. I think how different things could have been if my friend had joined me with horses instead of the gang. He ended up in prison due to that lifestyle, but even worse, I saw many of my friends die or become crippled at the hands of gang members. I ask you tonight to please help us raise the money needed to give kids hope. Please give as much as you can. Horses do make a difference. Thank you.
Above and Beyond “Ordinary” Inc. Therapeutic Riding Program Jan L. Threinen NARHA Certified Instructor Specializing in Teaching Riders with Disabilities All contributions to Above and Beyond go to helping children and adults with disabilities (Jan herself has MS and was in a wheelchair until she returned to riding horses which helped her to build up her strength. She rides everyday of her life so that she can continue walking and moving. The therapeutic horses have given Jan back her life, which is why she has devoted her life to teaching others with disabilities to ride. She desperately needs funds to maintain her horses, which are all rescue horses that she has trained to be therapeutic horses. Please help. Even a small contribution will go a long way to making the lives of these wonderful horses and their “patients” better.
Thank you, Build-A-Bear, for your recent grant award. We cannot fully express how appreciative our foundation is for this grant. Many horses will benefit from your organization’s generous donation. Together, we can end the suffering of horses everywhere.