WASHINGTON, Connecticut – A Pakistani girl who lost a leg in earthquake will be one of the competitors in Winter Park Ski Resort in Colorado, choosing hope after a devastating disaster that took the lives of 80,000 people and changed her life forever.
“I’m a person that likes going fast, doing everything fast. I just like speed,” said Afsar.
The 16-year-old girl from Pakistan lost her leg in 2005 when her school crumbled during a 7.6 magnitude earthquake that took the lives of 80,000 people and displaced three million others in the Kashmir region.
Coming to the US six months after the earthquake, to be fitted with a prosthetic leg at Shriners Hospital in Springfield, Massachussetts, she caught the interest of a Time magazine editors.
In a later medical visit, Ted and Rebecca Bent of Washington, Connecticut, offered to house her and send her to school, where her friends invited her to go skiing.
“The skiing took and who would have imagined,” said Ted Bent.
She is now one of the top skiers from Pakistan and hopes to represent the country in the upcoming 2018 Paralympics in South Korea.
“For my family it’s kind of shocking because they don’t understand what [skiing] is in a way,” said Afsar. “We don’t have skiing in Pakistan so it’s hard for them to process the idea.”
She also knows that relatively few women from the region participate in such sports.
“It’s not common for women to be athletes [in Pakistan],” said Afsar.
“Now I’m doing a sport that I love. That might inspire people despite everything that’s holding them back.”