Despite her disability, Rihana is pursuing her dreams
Visually-impaired Rihana Gul has never given up on her dreams despite the challenges she has faced.
“Nothing is impossible if a person is determined to achieve something. Even a disability can become a motivation. I don’t consider blindness a barrier to achieving my goals,” she tells The News on Sunday.
Rihana Gul hosts a weekly programme at Radio FM 92.6. Her show focuses on disabilities and features interviews of disabled people who want to share their stories with the world.
Rihana Gul was born in Shirgarh village of Mardan district. When she was six years old, her family took her to a Rawalpindi hospital. “They told my family that there was no cure for my visual disability. They asked my parents to send me to a school for the blind,” she says.
She was enrolled at the school for special children in Shamsabad, Rawalpindi. There she stayed for 14 years and studied till Grade 12. Then, she got admission in BA at the University of Peshawar.
“I was really sad at how things were in Peshawar. They rejected my admission request for the four-year BS programme only because I was one short of the required marks. I didn’t lose hope and got admission at the same university in bachelors of arts (BA). Now I am in the final term,” she says. “I cannot get all of my books from the University of Peshawar. I have to rely on other people to record my course work. People at the campus are not very cooperative on technical aspects,” she says.
“I want to get a PhD degree and wish to become a role model for disabled people. I love my teachers. They are my role models and someday I will be one of them.”
Her siblings, three brothers, are also blind. “We live together and do all our chores by ourselves, from washing to ironing, from cooking to doing the dishes, making tea and receiving the guests. When our relatives and friends visit us, they often wonder how we manage things so well,” she says.
“A year ago, one of my friends referred me to Pakhtunkhwa Radio FM 92.6. I went there for a promo recording. They were starting a programme on the life of people with disabilities. I was selected for the job because of my voice. Soon, I came up with a name for the show: Mashalona or lights,” Rihana Gul says.
“Earlier, I taught at a school for three years. I am now working at a radio station. We rely on sounds. So I wanted to utilize this medium to tell the stories of people like me. For this purpose, radio is the best medium as most blind people cannot read or watch TV,” she says.
“A year ago, one of my friends referred me to Pakhtunkhwa Radio FM 92.6. I went there for a promo recording. They were starting a programme on the lives of people with disabilities. I was selected for the job because of my voice. Soon, I came up with a name for the show: Mashalona or lights,” she says.
“Radio doesn’t pay me well but it gives me a chance to reach out to people. I love to tell the stories of these people to the world,” she says.
Rihana has been financially supported by her family till now. “Now, I want to lessen the burden on my father. He is the only earning hand in our family and he has grown old,” she says.
She also appeals to the government to help her siblings. “The government does not give due attention to the problems of people like us. The government or non-government organizations should help disabled people get education,” she says.
“I am not afraid of the difficulties. Whatsoever happens, I will continue to pursue my dreams. Hopelessness creates further difficulties. My motto is: continue moving forward and ignore the people who try to discourage you,” she says.
The writer is a freelance journalist based in Peshawar and tweets @Wasim_Chashmato