People with disabilities in Pakistan face many obstacles seeking education and getting jobs. Lack of accessible infrastructure and behaviour of those around them add to their problems.
Hameezuddin, a 17-year-old from Gilgit, is a professional skier and has a learning disability and a speech impairment. “My disability does not limit me, and I don’t think anyone should let it come between their dreams,” he said on SAMAA TV’s morning show Naya Din on Tuesday.
“When I am skiing, it feels like I am soaring through the air. My speech has been impaired since birth but it has never held me back,” he said.
From an early age, Hameez wanted to make his country proud.
He practices for two hours in Naltar valley every day. He was first approached by the Special Olympics Pakistan, an organization that provides a platform for children with mental and physical disabilities to showcase their talent. Hameez was later selected by the UNICEF and represented Pakistan internationally in the World Winter Games in Austria.
Junaid Ahmed, a student of Azad Jammu Kashmir’s Akab School for Blind Mirpur, has also set an example for people with disabilities. He scored the second position in the AJK matriculation board, securing 990 marks out of 1100.
“I did my schooling from AKAB school,” he said on the show. “It is a special school for blind children.”
The founder of the school, Muhammad Ilyas Ayub, is a visually impaired philanthropist. He received basic training in Braille from Sun Rise Institute for the Blind in Lahore.
“Sir Ayub wanted to give a platform to the visually impaired to fulfill their dreams so that they don’t face the same hurdles he did,” Ahmed said.
He has recently given his FA examinations. “I am interested in sports, reading, and writing,” he said.
He requested the government to introduce accessible braille devices for the visually impaired so that they can lead their life without any obstacles. He said that there are very few opportunities for people with disabilities, but also admitted that things are gradually changing in Pakistan.