Biography of Mehnaz Fatima (Mini)
Mini was born on September 1, 1964, the last of the four children of Sakin and Azizali Mohammed. She was diagnosed soon after her birth as a special child with certain disabilities caused by a cell abnormality that created a set of symptoms designated as “Down Syndrome”. Despite conflicting advice on her mental capacity, Mini was raised in a warm and stimulating environment and turned out to be a high performing student at the specialized schools she attended in her home town, Washington DC, including the Society for Crippled Children, where she was ” mainstreamed” with regular children who helped develop her speaking abilities; the experience of working with students with different abilities became the model for a similar school that was established in her name by her family in a poor part of pakistan’s Northern Areas later in her life.
She graduated with a high school diploma from the Joseph Kennedy Institute in the capital city after being chosen as the Valedictorian in the Class of 1987, displaying her skills as a public speaker.
Mini travelled with her family to many cities in Europe and the Middle East, including living for more than a year in Islamabad and Riyadh when her father was serving there. In addition to English, mini learnt Urdu and showed her language skills when addressing groups of people interested in helping children with various handicaps. In the inauguration of the special school in Gilgit in 2005, she threw aside a speech drafted for her in English and switched into Urdu when recognizing that most of the audience did not understand English. She uses both languages in her extensive volunteering work.
Mini has a facility for languages and is currently learning Spanish. Mini also has an artistic bent and does painting and working with pottery products, which she sells for pocket money. Mini is a self-confident and friendly human being, who, despite her handicaps, maintains a smiling face and an optimistic attitude in her approach to life.