Voices of Leaders

Ms. Zahid Qureshi

Ms. Zahida Qureshi 1

My name is Zahida Hameed Qureshi, I belong to Multan. When I was one year old I had polio due to which both of my legs became paralyzed, so now I conduct my chores with the help of wheelchair, but I never let my disability take control over me. Even though I faced difficulties on every step but I never made these problems a barrier for me.

I got educated in an inclusive environment till my university. I did my MA in economics from Bahwaldin Zakriya University. I always worked hard and had faith in Allah, because of this passion Allah created options for me and I was successful. I did my metric in science subjects and passed with good numbers. After that, I did my FA and BA from Government Degree College. I was regular independent student. If you have will to do so then Allah also creates way for it. My siblings used take me to school and I am very thankful to them. Due to building being inaccessible I faced difficulties realizing my problem my professor Dr. Karamat who was the chairman of our department supported me and got a ramp made till my department for the motorcycle to reach. UNFORTUNATELY, in western world everything is shown accessible unlike in Pakistan due to which disable people cannot do anything freely. 

Dr. Salma Maqbool (Late)

THE WINTER SUN:

Dr. Salma Maqbool, was the voice of the disabled in this country. After she was   diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa — an incurable genetic disorder leading to blindness — she took it upon herself to elevate her individual struggle to a bigger sphere. From there started a journey that left an indelible mark on history of social welfare in Pakistan. A young visually impaired female doctor would go on to single handedly establish ‘Darakhshan’, a Vocational Rehabilitation Centre for Women with Disability, develop the National Policy on Disability for the Ministry of Social Welfare, chair the Committee on the Status of Blind Women of the World Blind Union and manage the Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness in the capacity of Chairperson. Her proudest achievement however remained the induction of visually impaired in the Civil Services of Pakistan, a first in the 60-year history of Federal Public Service Commission. This in itself is beyond most will ever aspire to do in their lives, but being her niece I was privy to facets of her personality that were much personal.

Dr. Fatima Shah (late)

DHOOP AUR SAAYA (SUNSHINE AND SHADOWS):

Dr. Salma Maqbool, was the voice of the disabled in this country. After she was   diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa — an incurable genetic disorder leading to blindness — she took it upon herself to elevate her individual struggle to a bigger sphere. From there started a journey that left an indelible mark on history of social welfare in Pakistan. A young visually impaired female doctor would go on to single handedly establish ‘Darakhshan’, a Vocational Rehabilitation Centre for Women with Disability, develop the National Policy on Disability for the Ministry of Social Welfare, chair the Committee on the Status of Blind Women of the World Blind Union and manage the Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness in the capacity of Chairperson. Her proudest achievement however remained the induction of visually impaired in the Civil Services of Pakistan, a first in the 60-year history of Federal Public Service Commission. This in itself is beyond most will ever aspire to do in their lives, but being her niece I was privy to facets of her personality that were much personal.

Ms. Saima Ammar (Late)

Ms. Saima Ammar (Late)

Saima Ammar, Chief Executive Officer of Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness (PFFB) lost her eyesight at the age of two-and-a-half. Her optic nerve was totally damaged following a severe attack of typhoid in 1971. Saima’s started her education in Pakistan at the Al-Maktoum Special Education Centre, did her matric from Station School, and graduated from F G College for Women. Her biggest dream was to get a Masters degree in International Relations from Quaid-i-Azam University and to appear for the CSS exam. In the absence of a special seat for disabled under the quota system, she tried her luck through open merit, topped the entrance test, as well as the first two semesters at QAU, till she learnt that she was not eligible to appear for the CSS exam on medical grounds. “I immediately lost interest in studies. I thought why should I bother myself, because being blind, I had to work twice as hard,” she regretfully stated, hoping that this absurd law would also be done away with soon. Unlike Saima, most people with disabilities are not fortunate enough to have lead a “pampered bund life,” as she describes it. When doctors in Pakistan indicated that there was no treatment for her particular atrophy of the eye, Saima’s uncle in London adopted her. She got admission at the Linden Lodge School, and then went to Chorley Wood College – the best college for blind people in England.

Ms. Nasreen Aziz

FANTASTIC LADY, AJK BAGH, PAKISTAN:

She is an Administrative Officer at the APCD -Asia/Pacific Development Centre on Disability – in Thailand. This center is facilitating networking, cooperation and capacity building among disability related organizations in the region, by establishing focal points for cooperation and information sharing. Saowalak Thonkguay’s duties in APCD are to organize seminars and to plan the budget for these seminars/workshops, to coordinate with disability related organizations and individuals, and to handle incoming mails for the mission team. She is also in charge of secretarial work. Saowalak Thongkuay is also a member of a number of organizations working for and with PWDs, for example RVSD (The Redemptorist Vocational School for the Disabled), Pattaya orphanage trust, and Wheelchair Global Club. In these associations she is responsible for fund raising activities and for advocating accessibility issues.

Ms. Lozina Shoaib

Back in ’79, when I was born, there was no concept of an inclusive system but my parents decided not to put me in a special school. I was told right from the day that I started understanding… that I am different. I started learning about good things. That was a huge part of building my confidence’ explains Lozina ‘I remember the first day I went to school. I saw that everyone else was alike and I was different.’ But that did not trouble her. Lozina would remember the bedtime stories told by her father every night. She would gather all her classmates the next day and retell the stories. She slowly won them over and soon enough no one was riding the swing for Lozina couldn’t.

In 1999, Lozina graduated from C.B. Cantt College with a Bachelor’s degree. Not much later, she gave an entrance test at Fatima Jinnah University.‘ I was busy having fun with my cousins when my friend called and told me about this test the next day.’ Lozina tells me ‘I had no time to prepare but I went anyways. A few days later, I got a call from my class fellow while I was sleeping’. ‘Your name is the first name for the interview’, her friend screamed over the phone. Lozina thought it must have been a mistake because she performed so miserably at the test. As it turned out, it wasn’t. She showed up for the interview next morning. One interviewee after another, the long line pulled in.