Meet Zarina Hassan, the epitome of courage, power and hope in the face of Pakistan. Her heart-wrenching tale of self- discovery quivers the heart from the core, yet restores faith in life.
Ms Hassan was leading a successful life when incidentally fell prey to a life-altering disease, glaucoma at the age of 35 and completely lost her vision when she was just 37 years old.
Zarina is a medical doctor with a Master’s degree in the Molecular Biology and Pathology of Viruses, from Imperial College, University of London. She is also a writer by choice, rock climber by passion and an accomplished painter by virtue. She had to let go of her career after she lost her vision, but never for once gave up on her hopes, dreams and challenges, yet continued to live to her fullest.
Zarina was expecting her third child, when diagnosed with Glaucoma, underwent multiple procedures, but her disease aggressively progressed, dragged her from light to shadows and then eventually to total darkness. Her doctors advised her to abort the child, but Zarina chose to hold and successfully delivered her third child. Not just she rose her newborn and two other kids but acquired professional training of braille to read and write.
“Embarking to a new lifestyle, surrounded by darkness wasn’t easy but life-changing.” – says Hassan.
While looking for avenues to express herself, she found painting a perfect outlet to communicate to the world through art and colours. Swamped by unwanted sympathy, she chose to re-fashion and re-model her destiny from debilitating dependency to hope and a promise of a better tomorrow. She started painting in February 2017 and organized her ‘First Solo Exhibition for the ASG’ while incorporating art into furnishings and interior decoration.
“When I paint, an indescribable, inexplicable force guides my hand to apply colours, form patterns, and add textures to a blank canvas, creating work that leaps out and draws the observer to its depth. The vibrancy and three-dimensionality breathe life into the artwork.” – says Zarina Hassan
Apart from learning to communicate, read and write while being blind, Ms Hassan continued to trek over difficult mountainous courses and made it to the top of the Eagle’s Nest at Sadhu’s Retreat.
Today, Zarina stands as a testament to evolution in the face of adversity. A ballad to the power of positive thinking. While displaying immense strength and courage, Zarina progressed to advocate ‘Social Inclusion for persons with disabilities’. She guides parents of visually impaired children to believe in them. She also engages with organizations to involve differently abled children as equally as any normal.
In parallel, she fights for the rights of underprivileged parents of differently abled children that these parents have every right to dream of a glorious future for their children. Stomping over their hopes and aspirations with a flat rebuttal is unacceptable. Ms Hassan emphasizes that community and society must work together to enable and empower these children to reach for the stars.
She finds power in her pen and paints, “When I pen my thoughts down, words come together to compose a moving and powerful text, taking the reader along on a journey of hope and exultation” says Hassan.
Zarina strongly believes that disabilities are multifaceted and multidimensional, brings formidable challenges, and triggers an avalanche of emotions. Survival with dignity and integrity must be ensured because visual impairment does not absolve age or gender. It affects indiscriminately, presenting unimaginable challenges and obstacles. Though not necessarily insurmountable, if given guidance, support, and encouragement.
Last but not least, she is consistently and relentlessly knocking the doors, to have voices heard, dreams to be realized, and aspirations to be fulfilled. Regardless of many adversities, Zarina Hassan dared to dream, believe in her innate abilities, and the benevolence of the creator.
Have anything to add? Please share it in the comment below. If you wish to reach Zarina for her paintings or to help her for the cause write here.