Caring for people with disabilities... By Hashim
27 February, 2013
"I have not been handicapped by my condition. I am physically challenged and differently able." — Janet Barnes. Last week, I happened to interact with several people who had disabilities in my home district Larkana and in other districts of upper Sindh. Sadly, people living with disabilities said they were not fully supported by the federal and provincial governments. Several barriers are being faced by people living with disabilities in these districts, particularly in repeatedly disaster devastated districts. Due to this unfavourable state of affairs, most disabled people in the province are languishing in extreme poverty as they lack even basics such as food and shelter.
In rural areas, most disabled children are unable to attend school because the environment and the infrastructure are not child friendly for those with disabilities. The people who designed these schools did not have disabled people in mind. The poor socioeconomic status of persons with disabilities in Sindh has contributed to their segregation and exclusion when it comes to education, employment and general living conditions.
It is also a known fact that most disabled people in my home province have, as a result of their physical state, not benefited or enjoyed the advantages of the present democratic government's policies. It is noticed that most, if not, all higher learning institutions in the province and in the country are not able to accommodate people living with disabilities. Look at the educational institution in the federal capital, of Islamabad — one will not find even a single disabled person appointed against a disability quota. This perpetuates the circle of poverty as, without empowerment, most cannot prosper in life. Among the ministries, the ministry of law and justice and parliamentary affairs is one of those few esteemed ministries that have implemented the disabled people quota in letter and spirit.
The provincial government must take a revolutionary step at this crucial juncture to address the challenges faced by people with disabilities. Unfortunately, some of these policies are just on paper and nothing is happening on the ground. It will be difficult for the country to achieve the millennial development goals as long as the challenges facing people with disabilities are not addressed. Most people who are living with disabilities are also living in poverty and, hence, they should be supported if the country is to achieve these goals.
In the words of Dr Veena Kumari, "Enable the disabled, translate disability into ability, capability into a winning opportunity". Indeed, the moral test of this outgoing democratic government is how it treats the sick, the needy, disaster-devastated and the disabled. In this dismal scenario, the prime minister is requested to put in place measures that will ease the hardships that people living with disabilities are facing in the country. In this matter, it is proposed that all the educational institutions in the country, and other ministries and federal organisations be directed to enforce the disabled people quota and also to take revolutionary strides to improve the welfare of people with disabilities