SPEAK FROM THE HEART
FINDING PURPOSE IN ADVERSITY
Ever since her accident, Zohra has had to rely on a wheelchair to get around. Her spinal cord was damaged, leaving her paralysed from the chest down. The recovery process has been difficult, and rehabilitation and therapy have become
necessities in her life.
'I have chronic pain almost 24 hours a day. I have so many [muscle] spasms that are extremely painful. There is so much that goes on in my body that I have to rely on therapy to feel better,' she shares.
These challenges have not stopped Zohra from leading a fulfilling life. Instead, she bounced back with a newfound purpose as an advocate for PWDs. Leveraging her unique perspective and empathy, Zohra seeks to bridge gaps in understanding.
In addition to her advocacy work, she co-facilitates peer support groups for PWDs to help them with their struggles. As a co-facilitator, Zohra listens to PWDs’ experiences and guides them to better understand and manage
their feelings. Apart from facilitating peer support groups, she works for an inclusive running group and uses her social media platform to speak up for those who live with adversity.
Zohra thinks that greater representation and celebration of PWDs could be hugely inspiring, especially for youth. To further this cause, she has returned to modelling, reminding and encouraging others to look beyond their disabilities.
From her perspective, Singapore has yet to fully recognise PWDs for who they are and what they can achieve. Sharing her observations, Zohra said, 'Most commonly, what they [PWDs] say is that able-bodied people only have feelings
of empathy and pity towards them. They also feel that they are not given the same opportunities as an able-bodied person.'
Societal misconceptions of PWDs take an undeniable emotional toll. 'PWDs feel that their voices are not heard. They feel excluded and discriminated against. This causes a lot of frustration and sadness,' Zohra explained, elaborating
that the extent of this frustration can be so extreme, it causes physical harm to a person or those around them.