‘The world stands still in awe of your rising, keep going’, says the 26-year old Wheelchair Girl, Tanzila Khan.
She keeps getting asked, ‘How did it happen?’, and replies “It was a shark attack”. Not. Born in Sialkot with a physical disability, it implied she couldn’t walk and was confined to a wheelchair since birth.
Everything was very clear from the start, the moment I had opened my eyes I knew it’s up to me of what I make out of me. No one is really coming to rescue me because I am not special even if they call me that. But half way through I realized why just lift up myself when I can do that for others too so I changed my goals towards society. I was around twelve then.
She wrote her first book, ‘A story of Mexico’ when she was 16 and then went on to publish her second book, ‘The Perfect Situation’ She has sold her books to fund community projects in the fields of disability, women empowerment, education and environment. She runs an organization by the name, Creative Alley which holds simulations for young people through workshops. In these workshops people are sensitized around disability issues, leadership, gender and other. Not only has she represented Creative Alley and Pakistan on many platforms abroad, but Tanzila changed the sympathies of others towards her as she used her abilities to be recognized as a writer, trainer, painter, a consultant and a social charity campaigner. She enjoys them all equally as they are all a source of energy and a connection with optimism.
Speaking of Optimism, she is @OptimismExpert on twitter and Instagram. She’s kind, unafraid, full of energy and persistent! Read her thoughts on her blog too: tanzilakhan.blogspot.com
What aggrieves her is that even if laws and policies for disabilities are existing in Pakistan, the general attitude of power to implement them is shallow. And even if they are implemented and people with disabilities can get opportunities to study and work, no one would really approach them for marriage. That’s how deeply rooted the stigma is.
She likes Kamla Bhasin for her Feminist views, Hans Rosling for his unique presentation through statistics. Also Dambisa Moyo, an economist, for reasoning why Aid is not healthy for any country in her book, Dead Aid but most importantly, she finds true inspiration in her mother:
She has been so supportive towards my right for happiness. We have fought, argued, laughed and also traveled the world together. For every daughter a time comes when she questions the role of her mother and wants her gone for good. But then eventually realizes that truly Allah has made mothers the biggest blessing. Now I really enjoy this relationship and keep wondering about things I can do for her. But I know she will always end up doing so much for me.
Here’s a shout to some of the most supportive girlfriends that she has: Aimen Iftikhaar, Izba Shahzad, Zoya Ishaq, Naeema Butt and the whole team of Creative Alley. Her message to the women out there is clear:
Women need to go back to why they are women and not men. What role does nature wants from them and its nothing less of leadership, management, organization and above all birth to life. If I would have been a man with a disability, I would have never really pushed my limits because I would have the privilege of my gender and I am sure I would have aimed very low and would have settled in that comfort zone soon. But because I am a woman, I used the gifts nature gave me and in return nature rewarded me with so much in life. The credit goes to the power of my gender. I don’t give up because I am a woman. Giving up is not embedded in me
Up next, she is making making a boardgame with Accountability Lab to help people learn accountability of disability laws in Pakistan and their implementation. It would be fun and sensitize the players. There’s another project called “Lemonade” which is in the pipeline too.
Thanks Tanzila, for making the world believe that kindness and optimism is not lost!