With a beaming smile and a loving hug, Xunairah has made many friends.
This is not actually a story. It’s a journey that I took some 9 years back after the birth of my second daughter, Xunairah , who was born with Down syndrome and a tiny hole in her heart.
It is not easy for any parent to be told by a pediatrician that your child won’t be able to attend School, will have serious health issues, and would not be able to survive for long. I have been an optimist person throughout my life, so I took it as a challenge. Xunairah has weak lungs and suffers from severe chest congestion from the month of October to April. I told my husband that this was the last time we have cried regarding her diagnosis, we have to look forward, we can’t love her any less since she is born with Down syndrome. From that day on, I surfed the net, gathered all the information I could, talked to any person who might help, and started working on my child.
I first got her assessed from Children Hospital Lahore (Xunairah was born in Lahore) and started the suggested therapies at home. We moved back to Karachi when Xunairah was 2 and 1/2 yrs old (June 2011). I wanted to enroll her in a school immediately. Through a friend of mine, I came to know of an NGO by the name Humqadam that provided me with a list of schools with an inclusive setup. I started calling them and every one of them refused admitting my child to their school since their admissions were closed and they were not in any mood to waver their rules for my daughter. Although I coaxed them to understand that each and every passing day is very crucial for my child’s development.
Another friend of mine, who was living in Karachi at that time had given me the number of Milestone Charitable Trust, which was a special school. I approached Fauzia Hussain, the director for Xunairah’s admission. Fauzia told me very clearly that Xunairah belongs in a mainstream school. I requested her to enroll her in her school as all the schools have refused her admission and I don’t want to waste her time. That’s how Xunairah started school. The occupational therapist and speech therapist at Milestones recommended that Xunairah needs those therapies independently also. I started looking for therapists and soon found out that it has also turned into a commercial business. For a middle-class family, it is very difficult to get a good therapist for their child. I have a firm belief that when Allah blesses you with a special needs child, he treats you specially and surrounds you with good people. Same happened in the case of Hafsa Iftikhar who became Xunairah’s first speech & remedial therapist. She was a special educator and a student herself. She really brought about a lot of improvement in my child.