Every year on December 03, International Day for People with Disabilities is celebrated with a resolve to empower the differently-abled and implement catalytic measures that could make the world a comfortable place for them. It is a day that encourages the differently-abled to explore potential opportunities and contribute to the socio-economic development of the country.
Pakistan has a widespread presence of disability in the country. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, nearly three million people suffer from some form of disability in rural areas. Hence it has become essential to work on policies and programs which could address their needs. The best approach to do so is by promoting the concept of inclusivity at a national level.
Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund is setting a good example in this regard by stressing inclusion and access to equal opportunities. In the last two decades, PPAF has empowered hundreds and thousands of differently-abled people across the country. Through such initiatives as the ‘Disability Project’, PPAF launched a nationwide program to counter disability and incorporate the differently-abled within the society.
This program was pivotal in providing assistive devices, skill training, attendant training, and independent living training to a total of 30,872 disabled individuals under a community-based rehabilitation program that ran across Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).
Additionally, under its livelihood and enterprise development program, PPAF worked in seven districts across Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, and KPK to provide 2,755 people with productive assets along with business incubation training to make them useful members of society. An additional 3,014 Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) were trained in enterprise development.
This served as a foundation for creating more and better employment means for the differently-abled.
From 2011 to 2016, PPAF supported the Family Educational Services Foundation (FESF) to develop the first-ever Pakistan Sign Language (PSL) booklet which was empirical in benefitting 5,000 children with hearing impairments. Furthermore, it has worked with Deaf Reach Schools and Training Centers across Karachi, Hyderabad, and Sukkur to develop training programs and resources for teaching staff.
PPAF also collaborated with the Pakistan Foundation for Fighting Blindness (PFFB) to establish computer centers within government schools for special children in Multan, Peshawar, and Lahore helping 8,000 visually challenged persons gain computer-based, IT skills and training.
PPAF has been providing skill development and vocational training programs for the hearing-impaired children, helping them to reach their true potentials and pushing them to join the mainstream society. Inclusion is one of the core values of PPAF, therefore the organization has promoted this approach in all its programs and ensured that equal opportunities are provided to every individual.
With a firm belief that the improvement in the economic situation across the disadvantaged areas of the country will also help counter the increased rate of disability in the country, it is the need of the hour to create more opportunities via specialized training and vocational programs that provide opportunities for all in the society.
This will lead to a more sustainable approach towards the promotion of an all-inclusive work environment, society, and stronger linkages as a nation. Initiatives similar to the ones PPAF has launched over the years to enhance the lives and livelihoods of differently-abled through poverty alleviation are a much-needed attempt at bridging the gaps existing within the society.