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  • Writer's pictureSumbella

Heritage and Inclusion: My Parents' Journey

[#heritage + #inclusion + #howpeoplemeet] I’m often asked how it came to be that I’m half English and half Pashtun, e.g.: how did your parents meet? (Gosh, this week even I asked my mum how she came and lived in the 45 degree heat of DeraIsmailKhan back when there was no AC!).

So here is a glimpse into her story:

In the 1980s, my mum came to the #KhyberPakhtunkhwa, then known as the #NorthWestFrontierProvince in #Pakistan to work.

Her work at first was in association with a Christian medical mission. And this led to her using her training as a Speech and Language Therapist.

At the time, President Zia Ul Haq’s daughter, who was deaf, needed therapy - and my mum regularly helped her with that.

Along the way, my mum became Muslim, a life-turning decision that eventually led to marrying my dad, which eventually led to me being here: writing to you from the family base in #KhyberPakhtunkhwa.

That’s a long story short.

But it brought me to today: in the family home, where I found a bunch of old photos while I was helping my dad pack. (Read the P.S. for more about the photos).

💬💭#overtoyou I always love hearing about how people meet. If you’d like to share, I’d love to know: how did your parents or you and your partner meet?

P.S.: Regardless of your political stance, I thought these were fascinating photos of my parents with President Zia Ul Haq, at the Centre for Speech and Hearing in Mardan in 1984, which he sponsored. I think they speak to a time long since passed. Margi, when telling her story, has often said that President Zia ul Haq was one of the first leaders in Pakistan at the time who began to rewire how people thought about and perceived disability and inclusion. He did this by beginning to bring his own daughter into the public spotlight. And in doing so, he made it easier for families to do the same. I understand that in those days, all too often children with disabilities used to be hidden out of shame and received no education.

Sometimes, just to allow yourself to be seen is one of the bravest things you can do.

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