Brothers Kerim and Selim Altınok were born just 45 seconds apart. They partially lost their sight at the age of four and totally lost it a few days before their 18th birthday. Although they had to overcome difficulties fully sighted people would not have to, they have never stopped fighting.
They finished primary school, and at university, they graduated with honors from the Istanbul University Faculty of Law. They specialized in financial law. The brothers have also represented Turkey in the field of chess and Selim has drawn with world chess champion Anatoly Karpov.
Career and art
The Altınok brothers got involved in art while they were building their careers. They started playing various instruments at an early age and decided to become professional musicians. They passed the exams at the Istanbul State Conservatory.
As part of the Bakırköy Association for the Blind, the brothers formed a choir named Gözder, composed entirely of blind members, in 1991. They aim to share their knowledge from the conservatory with the choir and prove that all disabilities can be overcome with good music education.
They revised the choir last year and brought together 25 music buffs, both sighted and blind, in order to get rid of the concept of "otherness."
Rehearsals continue to meet music lovers in the coming months. "In order to succeed, you don’t need to see but to think. Your brain is the only thing you need to do this," Kerim told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. They dream of taking the stage with Turkey’s leading artists.
During their lives, the brothers have faced many difficulties. Kerim said their primary school years were hard for them. "We were forced to do written homework," he said. "And also we needed to attend calligraphy classes and become successful."
Teamwork at university
Selim said their battle was not limited to primary school. "I was taking notes using the Braille alphabet. Kerim was typing them. We never slept before midnight for four years. It was totally teamwork."After graduating from university with their first degrees, the Altınok brothers dreamed of making a career at university, but they could not realize this dream. But they did not stop. They did internships at the Istanbul Courthouse and opened an office."When our clients understood that we were blind, they gave up hiring us. They did not understand that this is not about seeing. In accordance with the law, impaired people are not able to work as a judge, either," Kerim said. Altınok brothers are now dealing with art and teaching. For more information about the brothers, go to www.selimkerim.com.