She learnt to ski on wooden boards. Now this 12-year-old girl is ready to take on the world

January 14, 2020

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Azra, who is hearing and speech-impaired, is one of the most promising talents at the Malam Jabba ski training school. - Photo by Murad Ali Khan
Azra, who is hearing and speech-impaired, is one of the most promising talents at the Malam Jabba ski training school. - Photo by Murad Ali Khan

Azra used to sell boiled eggs to tourists at a ski resort in Malam Jabba along with her brother Hamza, when she developed her love for skiing. Due to financial constraints, her family could not buy her proper equipment so Hamza carved ski pedals and boards out of wood to enable his sister to practice the sport.

Now, 12-year-old Azra, who is hearing and speech-impaired, has become one of the best students at her ski training school as she pursues her passion for skiing despite financial and physical restraints.

She is a quick learner, says her coach Sharif Khan, who is confident that Azra will not only participate in upcoming ski tournaments but also win.

"She can neither hear, nor speak but she is learning how to ski very quickly and with ease," he told DawnNewsTV.

The training institute at Malam Jabba has been built recently, as the scenic valley — which was famous for its ski resort — recovers from the destruction caused by militants. The ski resort has been rebuilt along with a chairlift to shift people at the top of the spot and ski tournaments are being held.

Malam Jabba is Pakistan’s only ski resort that is open to the public. Like previous years, the district administration has announced that it will be organising tournaments this year too. Azra is excited at the prospects of participating in the tournament and hopes she can make her country proud.

Rabia Bakhtawar, who was visiting the resort from Islamabad, told DawnNewsTV that much like the valley was an example unto itself, its people were also exceptionally brave. She gave the example of Azra, who refused to let her disability stop her from achieving her dreams of making Pakistan proud on the world stage.

Bakhtawar added that the last time she visited Malam Jabba some years ago, the area was ensnared in an insurgency, due to which many of the facilities such as the chair lift, ski resort and the Malam Jabba hotel had been destroyed. “Now that peace has returned to the valley, I would recommend everyone to visit this beautiful place,” she said.