Bullied as a child due to Dwarfism, Mudasir Shaban now works to enable Kashmir’s disabled community
Access to essential supplies has been especially hard for disabled people in the Kashmir Valley during the coronavirus lockdown. Fortunately help has been at hand thanks to Mudasir Shaban, founder of Disability Welfare Trust. Born with Dwrafism, Mudasir faced discrimination growing up in rural Kashmir. This is his story.
Soon after the coronavirus lockdown was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir, Bisma Bagaht, a teacher, lost her father. Bisma has a locomotor disability and needs support to move around.
“I earn a living by taking tuitions at home but the pandemic put an end to that”, says Bisma, who lives with her mother and three younger sisters in Srinagar. “We ran out of food and other essential supplies a few weeks after the lockdown”.
Help came in the form of Mudasir Shaban, Head, Disability Welfare Trust (DWT). Mudasir delivered food packets and other supplies to Bisma’s home and kept checking on her regularly.
Mudasir, has Dwarfism, a condition of short stature. It’s genetic mutation that affects bone growth. The average adult height in dwarfism is four feet and common complications are bowed legs, hunching of the back and crowded teeth.
Realised his condition after joining school
Mudasir, who is from Safapura village, Ganderbal district, discovered his condition late.“I realised that I was disabled when I joined school. My family consulted many doctors but there was no improvement”. He loved going to school but was constantly teased. “I was mocked and harassed by classmates and others all the time”.
Mudasir applied for higher studies to a better school and was rejected due to his disability. Depressed, he refused to enrol anywhere else. His family motivated him to continue with his studies at a government school. Here he topped the tehsil in his class 8 exams.
Forced to leave home
The achievement made no difference to the way Mudasir was treated. He was forced to leave his family and move in with his uncle in Srinagar.
“It was a big change and I struggled to cope with the higher standards in school. I had no idea there were schemes for the benefit of disabled people so I didn’t avail of them”. He persisted and did an MBA in Finance. Alongside, he started working with many local disability organisations like the Jammu and Kashmir State Welfare of Blind, Specially Disabled Welfare Association, to name a few.
I decided to work with organisations fighting for disability rights because I experienced first-hand the discrimination faced by people with disabilities. I know what it is like and as a disabled person I bring a certain perspective to the advocacy work. I took part in many seminars and conferences to understand the larger struggles faced by people of different disability types. – Mudasir Shaban, Founder, Disability Welfare Trust
When the lockdown was declared, DWT was just a few weeks old but Mudasir mobilised support with the help of friends. “We started working from our homes and initially reached out to disabled people in Srinagar, distributing food packets and other essential needs. We have delivered over 500 food kits to people’s doorsteps in Srinagar alone”.
Aims to empower J&K’s disabled community
The disabled community in J&K, as Mudasir points out, is especially marginalised. “Even in normal times, we are under lockdown because of the curfew and security presence. Often the disability pension does not reach people on time leaving them dependent on others. My aim is to enable the disabled community in J&K by ensuring that central and state government schemes reach them. I want to ensure that the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act gets applied here”.
During the lockdown, Mudasir tried to ensure support for people even outside the state capital. Zubair Haneef, who lives in Sopore and has a locomotor disability, is among the many who received food packets from the DWT.
“Mudasir and his team have come to our help at a critical time”, says Zubair who lives with his brother and parents. We were affected a lot during the lockdown and his help was very needed”.
Arshida Akhtar from Srinagar is getting support from DWT even now after lockdown restrictions were partially eased. “DWT provided food during the Ramzan period and even now they have promised to deliver medicines that I need to take due to my condition”.
If you live in J&K and would like to reach out to Mudasir Shaban, you can write to him at email@example.com
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