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A young girl born with disabilities becomes a star at SIBF

Afkar Abdullah /Sharjah
afkarali@khaleejtimes.com Filed on November 14, 2015
A young girl born with disabilities becomes a star at SIBF
A young Pakistani girl born with disabilities becomes a star at SIBF

Sharjah International Book Fair concludes today (November 14) at the Expo Centre.

A young Pakistani girl born with disabilities gave a rousing presentation to the crowd at Sharjah International Book Fair on Friday. The event concludes on November 14 at the Expo Centre.

Tanzila Khan is the girl who proved "If you can dream it, you can do it" and has overcome her difficulties to become a successful author and motivational speaker. She also campaigns for education and disability rights in Pakistan; she has set up initiatives such as "MAD", (Make a Difference) which works with young men inspiring them to make small changes that help their communities, 'Stand up Speak up' and Lemonade with Tanzila Khan.

At 16 she published her first book, 'A story of Mexico' and then sold her novel to aid the earthquake victims of Pakistan. Her second novel is, 'The Perfect Situation' and she is launching her third book, 'Surpassing Limits' at SIBF on Saturday.

She said, "We all have special needs. Sure you can see mine and we might not be able to see yours but you will have them. Somewhere down the line you will need some special help and you need to be able to communicate what that is. Let's help people to learn how to communicate their needs. We all deserve to live life to the fullest, you were born and you have a right to live a good life. We should all think about how to make the world a better place. It comes from within not without. It won't come from governments or leaders, it must come from within in you."

Khan was born into a society that does little to understand disability and where a male's birth is celebrated over a female's. But citing her parents as her greatest inspiration she said, "When I was born, my father said that more than bringing up a little girl, this was an opportunity to tackle prejudices against disabled people. He saw it as a duty, a project. For my birth they celebrated and gave away sweets. But some family members were shocked and said why are celebrating a girl's birth, and one with disabilities?"

Khan grew emotional as she continued her story, "My father said to them, one day she will grow up and learn of her birth and I want her to know, this is how we reacted, this is how we celebrated bringing you in to the world and I want you to be the one to tell her."

Answering questions about her experience as a disabled woman Khan pointed out that there is a lot of pressure on women to look perfect, whether in Pakistan or here in the Middle East. She said, "Women are expected to marry, produce perfect children, look perfect, keep a perfect house. It is a lot of pressure but for me, this is not the case as I am aware of the stigma and do not forward to those opportunities. As I am not getting married anyway I look at the situation differently, I do not feel bad about it. I choose how I look at life and I choose to be happy."

Moderating the session Mohammad Gobashi said, "You may not have two legs but you have two wings that fly you round the world and into the hearts of people, you are a true inspiration."

Afkar Abdullah


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