#PowerOfOne – Kerala Social Security Mission head Mohammed Asheel says helping disabled people his true calling
Our December campaign #PowerOfOne focusses on government officials actively working to enable the disabled community. Today, we feature Mohammed Asheel, Executive Director for Kerala’s Social Security Mission. Asheel’s determination to change the lives of disabled people for the better has been appreciated.
Mohammed Asheel started interacting with disabled people soon after completing his MBBS degree. This was in Kasargode, Kerala, a region that made headlines after many people were left disabled due to pesticide poisoning. Asheel got to interact closely with the people affected. It was this experience that made him aware of the difficulties faced by the disabled community. He realised that he wanted to continue working for their betterment.
Today as Executive Director, Kerala Social Security Mission. Asheel is credited with implementing many projects for people with disabilities in the state. This is not easy given the lack of awareness and stigma. “If I was born in Sudan with my height, I would be considered a dwarf”, he points out, “so disability is all about perception”.
The barriers faced by disabled people in India are many. The biggest perhaps is fighting the perception battle.
The Kerala government has many projects for people with locomotor disabilities and those who are deaf. People with intellectual disabilities are sidelined the most. Parents of children with autism and other intellectual disabilities worry about their children’s future. That is our focus for the next year. We will ensure that there are rehabilitation facilities. – Mohammed Asheel, Executive Director, Kerala Social Security Mission
Honoured for focusing on disabled in Kerala
Asheel’s efforts are getting noticed. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recognised his trauma care model as the world’s best. He has also worked for the national trauma care system. He brings this rich knowledge and experience to the projects he has launched for the disabled community.
The Kerala government has been widely praised for starting many initiatives to empower the disabled community. With officials like Asheel taking the lead in many of them, the disabled community feels their future looks better. “There is so much to be done. I believe a lot of time has been wasted. Things are happening in front of our eyes and we haven’t done anything to make a change. So it is important to focus on early intervention”, he says.
Asheel gets support from NGOs
Those who have interacted with Asheel say he is open to feedback. Seema Lal, Co-founder, of parent support group TogetherWeCan, says “He is open to criticism. That is among the first things I noticed about Asheel. He accepts the need for a change instead of painting a rosy picture. He agrees there is a need for greater accountability and transparency. Asheel has vocalised change”.
Unlike most government officials, he is also available. “Asheel has always strived towards making the lives of people with disabilities”, says Rajeev Palluruthy, Secretary, All Kerala Wheelchair Rights Federation. “He constantly works towards this. He is always available to hear complaints and that is the best thing about him”.
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