By Rafiullah Mandokhail,
QUETTA: “I am extremely happy for the help provided because this time I seriously thought I would be bed-ridden for the rest of my life”, said the young Baloch woman Arbab Khatoon, who lost her leg due to an untreated wound from a date thorn injury. She was given a prosthetic leg by Balochistan Rural Support Program after her first prosthetic leg broke which she had bought for one hundred and thirty thousand of her own money.
In Balochistan the total number of Persons with Disabilities is 0.14 million which is 1.18% of total population and means that there is one person with disability out of 100 persons in Balochistan.
According to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the United Nations’ treaty to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities; disability includes those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments, which hampers their full and equal participation in the society.
In the past, there was only one law focusing on persons with disabilities, the Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance 1981 but fortunately, Balochistan Assembly has passed the Balochistan Persons with Disabilities Act, 2017 which ensures equitable inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in society.
Apart from being a moral issue, marginalizing persons with disabilities has also become a major economic issue. In 2014, Pakistan’s economy lost an estimated US$ 12 billion because of excluding persons with disabilities from employment. According to the survey conducted by BRSP in 2018, 86% of PWDs were unemployed – dependent on others making them even more vulnerable.
Balochistan Rural Support Program started working for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in 2016 when Balochistan Community Development Program – funded by European Union provided assistive devices to 616 PWDs including; 150 wheelchairs, 50 tricycles, 50 crutches, 40 white canes, 120 hearing aids, 195 artificial limbs and hands, one electric bed and 10 modified 70 cc motorcycles.
“I can drop my children to school again” smiled Samander Khan, a beneficiary, who was once a very active member of his community until his leg had to be amputated due to an electrocution incident at workplace. He received a modified motorcycle which made him able to go somewhere again and Samander Khan started doing what he loves best which is working and serving his community actively.
In June 2017, with the financial support of European Union, BRSP launched Balochistan Rural Development and Community Empowerment Program. BRACE is a disability inclusive Program and under BRACE disability component 3,376 PWDs will be supported with the appropriate assistive devices. In addition, 3-D technology is being introduced at Al-Khidmat Hospital Quetta, to provide state of the art orthotic and prosthetic support to PWDs in the province. BRSP believes in collaborative development therefore, it partnered with Chal Foundation and provided 275 PWDs with orthotic and prosthetic support in 23 Union Councils of District Pishin. In the past, BRSP in collaboration with National Rural Support Program provided artificial limbs to 358 PWDs in district Pishin. Disability inclusive development could potentially break the vicious cycle of neglect, exclusion and poverty if millions of PWDs are given a chance to contribute to the country as a whole. The term disability is a disempowering term in itself. People with disability are differently able segment of the society.