The Life Of A Disabled Person Is An Example Of Hot Desert Sands, Says Paraplegic Amjad Siddiqi.

Shared by: Amjad Siddiqi:
The life of a disabled person is an example of hot desert sands and burning coals that I had to walk alone. Therefore, I took the path of patience, gratitude and perseverance, which opened the closed paths of my life one by one. Then I made hard work, honesty, self-restraint, and faithful commitment to the principles of life; and I quickly started on the road to success,” these were the views shared by Migo International Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Amjad Siddiqui.

The 57-year-old Siddiqi lost the use of the lower half of his body after an accident in 1981in Saudi Arabia. Since his accident, he has been confined to a wheelchair but has achieved what most able-bodied people can only dream of. He underwent a nine-month treatment in Riyadh, followed by 10 months in a rehabilitation centre in London. Despite this extensive treatment, his injuries remained.

He then returned to Pakistan only to face negative and unsupportive behaviour from his family and friends. He said many of them abandoned him in the early days of his disability, including his fiancé, whose family broke off the engagement soon after his accident. These painful experiences caused Siddiqi to once again leave for Riyadh, where he succeeded in securing a conditional job offer at the bank. In 1990, his job was terminated because he was not a Saudi national. He did not lose heart and started his own business in 1993 with the aim of becoming independent. He started a business of delivering products to a market in Riyadh. Since he could not drive a car, he made the trips to the market in his wheelchair.

After 35 years of hard work and dedication, Amjad Siddiqi is currently heading three manufacturing industries and two trading companies in the Saudi capital. He says he believes that physically disabled persons can lead normal lives, but for this, they must have faith in themselves. Amjad Siddiqi is the first man to travel to over 50 countries in a wheelchair. He has been giving motivational lectures at various forums and hospitals for the disabled for the past forty years and has been trying to bring patients who have been hospitalized for years to practical life.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is observed today (3 December) around the globe, including Pakistan, with the objective to increase awareness of disability issues and rallying support for the dignity, rights, and general welfare of people with disabilities.  The global observance to commemorate this Day is around the overarching theme of “Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world”. The number of people who experience considerable disability is rising because more individuals are developing non-communicable diseases, living longer, and ageing with functional limits.

Health disparities affect people with disabilities all around the world; they die earlier, have worse health, and have more restrictions on daily functioning than the general population. These disparities are a result of the unjust and unfair circumstances they experience, such as stigma and discrimination, poverty, exclusion from opportunities in education and the workforce, and obstacles in the healthcare system. The sufferings of disabled people are not limited to themselves their parents, friends, relatives and society also have to go through this test. People with disabilities are viewed as very inferior beings in our culture. They are despised rather than revered. They receive verbal abuse rather than words of encouragement, which discourages them. They are treated with contempt rather than empathy.

Even our governments do not view people with disabilities as equal citizens. Disabled persons are treated with indifference even by the government. When disabled persons require assistance from a government agency for any issue, they must endure humiliation. Disability Rights Activist Dr AfshanAfridisaid, “The acceptance from the family and society is the primary concern for the person with a disability. It is the first step for these people toward living a normal life, and we need to raise awareness among families and society to treat those with disabilities as members of society and provide them with equal access to health, education, and other facilities so they can participate fully in society as citizens.”

Persons with disabilities urgently require proper legislation and its implementation. Work is being done at the federal level, but in order to facilitate disability, it is imperative to involve provincial governments. In order to integrate people with disabilities into society, she urged the government and other institutions to offer them access to equal and high-quality education and skill-building opportunities.

“The only thing left to do is to educate the public about the needs of individuals with disabilities so that they can live in a society that is supportive of them.” The treatment of disabled people is quite expensive. Nearly 95 per cent of disabled people come from low-income backgrounds and cannot afford pricey medical care. Both federal and provincial authorities must ensure the provision of special medical facilities for them.

People with disabilities are viewed as a financial and social burden by society and families due to a lack of financial opportunity and knowledge. The government should devise skill-development programmes and equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities so that they might become valuable members of society. Dr. Afshan Afridi stated that the cottage industry has a lot of potentials, and that “we should offer small loans and fundamental training to encourage an entrepreneurial culture in people with disabilities.” Despite a rapid rise in the prevalence of disabilities, many localities still only had a two percent disability quota. The government must raise the disability quota to a least 05 per cent nationwide in order to facilitate these people.

The disability rights activist urged the media, social media and educational institutions to speak out and take responsibility for their part in raising awareness of the rights of people with disabilities. To inspire others and foster acceptance of those with disabilities, the success stories of these people should also be promoted. The annual observance of IDPD on 3 December was proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly.

 Efforts for Socio-economic Uplift of PWD:
As talented individuals with disabilities wait for the appropriate opportunity, people with disabilities (PWD) have encouraged the Council on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to play a vital role in their socioeconomic elevation and social inclusion. SaayaAssociation of Persons with DisabilitiesCEOAsimZafar said,“The CRPD was reconstituted by the government and given the mandate to ensure various welfare programmes, including access to employment opportunities, medical facilities, and marketplaces and offices for people with disabilities.”

According to AsimZafar, there is a lack of accurate data on people with disabilities, which is crucial because the government bases budget allocation and policy decisions on the data that is available. “The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) included a questionnaire on ‘Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement in order to collect data on people with disabilities. This questionnaire found that 14 per cent of people in the nation are disabled,” he added.

Deputy Director CRPD RanaSaeedRamzan stated that the council is the only agency issuing a disability certificate for people with varied abilities; and with this document, people could use significant government services in Pakistan. “The CRPD has made numerous measures to make Islamabad a welcoming city for people with disabilities and to guarantee a two per cent employment quota in the federal government,” adding that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has already begun to construct ramps at 40 different locations with signs on the council’s suggestion.

About 10 to 12 per cent of people in Pakistan are suffering from some kind of mental and physical disability. It is our common responsibility to include these special people with special abilities in the routine of life; and ensure the provision of other rights including equal opportunities for education, health and employment.


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