My family first

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This is an extraordinary story of a young girl who overcame odds to make her family’s life comfortable. Zubair Sofi talks to the multi-talented girl who learned to do dialysis on her ailing father to save money 

Urwah Hinan, 22, is no ordinary girl; neither has her struggles been ordinary. From learning to speak, learning how to conduct dialysis on her ailing father and being an exceptional sportsperson, Urwah has beaten all odds and come out shining.

Born to deaf and dumb parents, even learning to speak was a struggle for Urwah. A resident of Jamalta area of old city Srinagar Urwah currently lives in a joint family at Alamdar Colony Gopalpora in Budgam.

When she was born, her parents, Jan Muhammad Jan, now 45, Tehmeena, 40, were both ecstatic and worried. The concern was, ‘what if Urwah too is deaf and dumb like them’.

But as Urwah grew into a beautiful girl with all senses fully functional, the concerns of her parents, faded.

Youngest of three daughters, Urwah’s father, who used to run a small hardware shop in Jamalata to feed his family.

However, because of his disability, it was not easy for Urwah’s father to travel on his own. To overcome his disabilities, he learned to ride a scooter.

“But my octogenarian grandfather would always ride pillion with him to keep him out of trouble,” said Urwah.

 The arrangement worked well for some time. But in 2006, Urwah’s father met with an accident. “My grandfather’s hip joint was completely damaged in the accident,” said Urwah.

That day onwards Urwah’s father started travelling along, a risk that will cost him dearly. “It was difficult to keep track of our father once he would leave home,” said Urwah. “He cannot hear or speak which makes it extremely dangerous for him on a busy road.”

But Urwah’s father had no choice as he had a large family to feed.

Urwah’s father’s habit of trusting people at random slowly started taking tool of his business. “He sold things on credit to people he slightly knew,” said Urwah.

Within no time Urwah’s father was out of work and at home. To keep Urwah’s family feeding,  her father started doing odd jobs for survival. A part of the expenses were borne by her mother who would do Aarie Kaem in her free time. “But it was not enough to feed us all,” said Urwah.

It was then her uncle, Suhail Jan, who runs a school in the locality, who came forward to help his brother’s family.

“He enrolled us free of cost at his school and took care of our every need,” said Urwah. “He (uncle) treated us like his own kids and gave us freedom to decide our future.”

Urwah recalls how she learned to ride a bike and drive a car when she was just 12.

In 2009, Urwah joined classes to learn the art of self-defense. “When I was in Class 10, I learned Matsogido, a form of martial arts,” said Urwah. “I won a gold medal at the national level next year in Goa.”

The win helped Urwah find her passion for sports and her confidence. In 2013, she enrolled herself at Women’s College Srinagar for a bachelor’s degree in arts. “On the first day I asked my physical education teacher if I can participate in all the games played here,” recalls Urwah. “He was puzzled, but eventually allowed her.”

The same year Urwah came second in a cycle race held in Srinagar. “Next year I once again took the second spot,” said Urwah. “In third year I worked hard and bagged first position.”

Apart from cycling Urwah is an all-rounder when it comes to cricket. In 2013, Urwah recalls, how she came across Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA), trails at her college.

“I went straight to the coach and asked him if I can play too,” said Urwah. “He was impressed by my batting and bowling.”

Since then Urwah has represented her college at the national level in Delhi (2014) and Amritsar (2016).

Besides, Urwah has participated in state level volleyball tournaments. “We won the tournament. Our team was given Rs 10,000 as award money. This started my volleybal career.”

In 2016, at a state level championship of volleyball sponsored by Rajiv Ghandi Khel Abhiyan (RGKA) , Urwah played in Rajouri and won. Later she was selected to play in senior national Volleyball Championship Banglore. However, because of her final year exams Urwah couldn’t  participate.

Then in 2016, Urwah participated in Governor’s Silver Rolling volleyball State championship held in Udhampur. Her team ended up as runner ups. Later, she also participated in RGKA nation volleyball championship at Patiala. Same year Urwah was selected for senior national volleyball championship Chennai.

However, before Urwah could have rejoieced her wins, her father suffered kidney failure. With no permanent source of income, the news came as a blow for the family. “Once again it was my uncle who helped with the treatment and other expenses,” said Urwah.

It was not possible for Urwah to take her father to the hospital dialysis on a daily basis, so they decided to do it at home. “It would have cost us a lot if we had taken him to hospital for dialysis. So I decided to learn it myself,” said Urwah. “It was not easy but I had no other option.”

Doctors had instructed Urwah’s family to conduct dialysis at least thrice a day, but it meant spending lots of money, which they didn’t have. “We could do it once a day only as it costs less,” said Urwah.

After completing her graduation, Urwah wanted to do a degree in Physical Education, but couldn’t clear the exams as she suffered from typhoid.

Later she applied for a degree in laws but couldn’t pursue it because of financial issues at home. “I then sought financial help from my aunt Saima Jan,” said Urwah. “She helped without any delay.”

However, Urwah’s heart was in physical education. “But I have to earn to keep my family alive. How long we can rely on our uncle for our needs.”

Urwah has two immediate expenses staring at her: father’s treatment and her sister’s marriage.

Recently, Urwah’s family moved into a two-storey house they bought after selling their ancestral property. “It was a big decision but we had no other option,” said Urwah. “Our uncle said he will help us financially but we must start living separately.”

In order to help her mother with the family affairs Urwah’s younger sister Urfa, 19, dropped out of college. “I am desperately looking for a job so that I can help my family survive,” said Urwah.

However, at the same time, Urwah harbours a dream of becoming an athlete. In order to stay in touch with sports, Urwah coaches students from her locality in volleyball.

“I coach under 14 and 17 teams for both boys and girls. Recently they won three matches at the school level,” said Urwah proudly.

But Urwah insists that she is not doing anything extraordinary for her family. “This is what children are supposed to do.”

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