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The following story is of Samar Khan, the woman who defied all odds standing in her path to achieve the remarkable success she aspired for. She is indeed a great inspiration for us and a gift to our society.
I was living a simple life, without any big dreams. Just like any other ordinary girl. My life changed when I got engaged to a guy who liked me. We started meeting each other with the permission of our families. One day, he invited me over to his house to meet some of his relatives.
When I reached there, I saw that it was only his mother and sister. They put a long list of demands in front of me, including things like not talking in Pashto and not using social media or mobile at all. When I asked them how can I possibly leave my mother tongue and my friends, my fiancé became offended.
He started abusing me verbally and then both he and his mother started beating me. His sister didn’t even try to save me. I didn’t understand what was happening until my family found me thrown out of the car in the middle of nowhere. I ended up in the ICU. My parents called off the engagement and I cut myself off from the world.
They did not stop and kept creating problems in my life. I was freelancing and teaching Quran to children overseas. I had trusted him and had given all my social media details prior to separation. He used those to contact the families of my students to put false allegations on me that I belong to Lower Dir and belong to a family of terrorists and Taliban.
In severe depression, I knew there is not anyone I can trust or rely on! I was looking for a distraction and one day, I came across a paragliding course offered by Pakistan Army. I told my family that I want to join it. They didn’t allow me first because they thought I wasn’t thinking clearly and that I am still in danger, but they realized that it’s important for me to have a break.
After joining that course, my life changed. I met amazing people who helped to get out from that destructive phase. One of the girls introduced me to cycling. It was a new thing for me and we decided to go from Islamabad to Kunjerab Pass on cycles.
It was a life-changing trip for me. I met so many amazing people who changed my perspective towards life. People often ask me that how is it possible for me to do all this as I belong to lower Dir which is considered the very conservative area.
I answer that I adopted my values, along with my passion, which helps me get respect in my area. My uncle from lower Dir supported me and encouraged me to do well. I am the first Pakistani girl to break stereotypes and cycled all the way to northern Pakistan. My next goal is to open a sports complex to foster sports activities because they are not just games, they have the potential to change a life.