Marium Akhter started hooping in 2007 and she was passionate from the beginning. This Karachi, Pakistan native was taught by her father, who also trained 4000 girls in all cities of Pakistan. Although Marium lived in a country where girls are not allowed for perform for TV, stage, or even recreation, Marium holds 60 national awards as well partnership certificate holder with UN, WFP Ambassador from WHD.org of US. She is also the top star of Musical Nights/opening performances of National Games/Olympics in Pakistan.
Though Marium was from a poor family, by the age of 15, she had raised enough money to make and give away over 4,000 hoops and even provided free classes to accomplish teaching five whole communities, both girls and boys, to hoop. “I am working on my mission, peace by hooping, changing old thinkers’ minds by hooping. Some of them do not like females, girls especially, doing any activity. I am proud that I am becoming a success. These old minded persons are now under my training to learn hooping. I want to be super star of the hoop!” said Marium.
The Hoop and Flow Arts communities were stunned to receive the news that Marium Akhter passed away on July 31, 2015 at the age of 19. In her short life, she was nominated for two Hooping.org Hoopie awards and even participated in World Hoop Day in 2009. She was known throughout Pakistan as “Wonder Marium”. Many people thought of her a symbol of the bright future of their country. As a woman, it is difficult forging a way with creative freedom in Pakistan, which is known for its corrupt and fundamentalist ways that oppress women.
Marium’s father is quoted saying “Society has fallen into the abyss of religiosity to an extent that anything related to culture, creates confusion. A woman is imprisoned within the four walls or in a burqa. Nearly not allowed to take part in service, sports, recreation, art and athletics. “ he continues to say “They say: “Do not train girls in Hula hooping!”. They say this fun its unholy, heretic, this fun is against Islam!”
Marium’s husband was, as her father put it, a very old thinker. He would not allow her to hoop or to see her family, even though she was very sick He went as far as banning posts on Facebook and even removing her website. To make matters worse, he even refused to accept money from Marium’s father for her treatment. Although her official cause of death was complications from Lupus (an autoimmune disease that when untreated is life-threatening due to lack of immune response) and end result of an extremely controlling relationship, Marium has left behind an infant son and an incomplete mission.
Marium’s Father, Akhter Jawed, is continuing their works in her name, even after losing his daughter, his job and even receiving death threats. The family is asking for any donation towards her infant son and to support Akhter’s mission of standing for their rights, spreading the freedom of recreation and the arts in any form of joy or happiness. Akhter wants to organize hoop education programs in all of the cities in Pakistan and nearby countries to raise awareness for women’s rights and to visit countries to learn more about hoop teaching, hoop making, and to gain more people from fundamentalist nations who can make something new out of old ideas.
Akhter says “My “girl’s awareness” mission can change the luck of my country and poor people and save the world from suicide attacks and terrorism. And YES we will fight together but not by arms, Hoop is our weapon, our different ideas will root out the terrorism and suicide attacks. I believe, all hoopers and art peace lovers can make a difference in the world of peace….Hula hooping can root out Jihad from the Muslim world.”
The community will be with them on this mission to “save the world”. Please send prayers and peace to the Akhter family, as well as checkout the links below to participate in this movement!