Group Photo of Respected Participants
Milestone Society for the Special Persons organized an International Conference on Independent Living on 28th February, 2017 in collaboration with HANDS under the Umbrella of CBID (Community Based Inclusive Development) Network in Islamabad where International Leaders, representatives from INGOs, NGOs, Govt. officials and persons with disabilities form all over the country graced the occasion and share their experiences and valued services in this concern that changed the lot of persons with disabilities in their respective countries.
Rationale of the Conference
Lives of persons with disabilities are hard in any country, but they are particularly so in Pakistan, where poverty is ubiquitous and cultural traditions mark a disabled member as a shame on the family.In such environment, persons with disabilities are vulnerable and deprived as they are completely homebound and inevitably dependent on their family members in pursuing daily activities from eating to toileting to moving. Many of them are exposed to discrimination even at their own home and treated as if they had no human rights, but severity of their disabilities leaves them invisible and unheard in society.
The Pakistani government ratified the UNCRPD in June 2011 and has been demonstrating its will to protect its disabled population. However, changes have been relatively slow and certainly have not reached out to those with disabilities. Thus it is both important and urgent to help those with disabilities in Pakistan. They need to be recognized, reassured and accepted, the conference addressed the need of provision of assistive technologies to persons with disabilities to ensure their mobility and independent living as well.
The conference was incepted with the recitation from the Holy Quran by a person with visually impairment and warm welcome by Mr. Shafiq Ur Rehman form Milestone Society for the Special Persons. He paid heartily gratitude to participants for their valued presence and for to Ummah Welfare Trust and HANDS for their Worthy Support.
Master of Ceremony Mr. Asim Zafar briefly described the rationale of the conference and invited the respective panelist to the stage including Mr. Sarwat Mirza from HANDS, Mr. Shahnawaz Munami, National Coordinator CBID Network, Mr. Maryam Mallick, WHO, Mr. Joseph Nikitas from Greece, Mr. lmran Nazir, Leonard Cheshire, Mr.Jawaid Rais,DWAand Mr.Fazal
e Wahid from Ummah Welfare Trust. Mr. Shafiq Ur Rehamn President Milestone said that persons with disabilities are the most discriminated part of society and this is inhuman approach, they have their own distinguished life style that society has to accept. Persons with disabilities need to be included in the mainstream society with equal dignity and respect for the creation of right based, barrier free and inclusive society for all, he emphasized on the provision of independent living to persons with disabilities and the provision of assistive devices for their mobility as well. Mr. Shahnawaz Munami, National Coordinator, Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID) Network introduced the network among participants, he said that The Community-Based Inclusive Development CBID Network is a national network in the country that has established its provincial chapters as well. The network has registered many national well reputed organizations serving in development field all over the country.
The provincial chapters organize their activities under the flagship of CBID Network and promote inclusive development for all. The network has earned good will among stakeholders for its smooth pace of achieving the target goals. He appreciated Milestone for organizing this well served conference and emphasized on the provision of assistive technologies for the inclusion of persons with disabilities. He added that CBID Network is the promising network of country serving and meeting the said targets and it will reach out communities at all district levels to serve in the best possible manners.
Mr. lmran Nazir, Country Director Leonard Cheshire Disability appreciated Milestone for their services for persons with disabilities in general and for the severe persons with disabilities in particular. The concept of independent living was initiated by Milestone and we have many IL Centers currently serving in different cities of Pakistan providing services and making them productive part of the society that is commendable and we must support this good practice for the creation of inclusive society for all.
Mr. Sarwat Mirza from HANDS in his speech ensured the support from HANDS for the good practices and informed that HANDS have covered hundreds of districts in Pakistan providing services to smooth the living of the needy.
He appreciated otganizers of the ocnference and said that persons with disabilities are the equal right ctizens of the country and must support their activites for their incousion so that they may enjoy life like their counterparts.
Appreciating Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID) Network he said that this network has gained much god will and serving communities in the pertinent manners and HANDS extends it cooperation for the network.
Mr. Jawaid Rais, president Disabled Welfare Association (DWA) in his speech introduced his organization and informed that he has recently established an Independent Living Center in Karachi providing services to persons with disabilities in general and to the severe persons with disabilities in particular. The center is also providing personal attendant services to the severe persons to perform their daily chores. The idea of providing assistive technologies in the need of the hour he added and appreciated Milesone for their support to establish IL Center.
Mr. Khalid Naeem, Former DG Special Education in his speech emphasized the need of the assistive technologies for persons with disabilities and said that persons with disabilities are the marginalized community and they need to be visible through provision of assistive technologies that includes all kinds of assistive devices for all types of disabilities.
Ms. Saima Aslam from Women with Disabilities Forum (WWDF) in her speech described her personal history that how her life was changed through provision of Independent Living training where she leam how to manage life with disability and this training infused fresh spirit of life in her and she was introduced to new life with mobility and disability pride.
She emphasized on the need of assistive technologies for the mobility of persons with disabilities and added that women with disability forum is voice of women with disabilities in the country and we are serving to make this community be a productive part of the society.
Ms. Sumaira, a woman with severe disability as role model and motivation for others described her history of life with disability and how she learn independent life with the provision of independent self management training, she is student and managing her life with disability pride and all this happened possible with the provision of IL Training and assistive devices. She added that women with disabilities must be encouraged and supported to be independent t and be a positive part of the society.
Mr. Joseph Nikitas from Greece Disabled Cricket in his speech appreciated the organizers for the conference that it has addressed the basic needs of persons with disabilities. He added that his is support is there to initiate wheelchair cricket in Greece and he requested Pakistan Sports Council of Persons with disabilities to sign MoU for the said concern of wheelchair cricket initiative in Greece. The formal MoU signing ceremony was also observed during the conference where Pakistan Sports Council of Persons with disabilities will be providing technical support to Greece for wheelchair cricket.
Mr. Umar Pervaiz Malik, Chairman Punjab Youth Initiative speaking on the occasion introduced Punjab Youth Initiative and said that we are serving to promote and support the youth talent and link it at international level so that youth can achieve the set targets and establish his good will in the society. He appreciated the organizers for organizing the conference and added that Mr. Nikitas visited Pakistan on his request to promote sports activities of persons with disabilities.
The MoU signing ceremiony between Pakistan Sports Council of Persons with disabilities and Greece Cricket Concil was observed during the conference where Mr. Hussnain Raza and Mr. Joseph Nikitas signed the MoU representing each party.
Ms. Nasreen Aziz from Chirag-e Manzil, Bagh AJK,in her speech emphasized on the need of supporting grass root level DPOs (Disabled Persons Organizations) to connect them to the mainstream developpment as there are DPOs that feel ignored and they need to be recognized and supported.
She also appreciated CBID Network and requested to include more organizations form Azad Jammu Kashmir as well.
Ms. Maryam Mallick, Technical Advisor WHO in her speech appreciated independent living philosophy and the services Milestone is providing to persons with disabilities in general and to the severe persons with disabilities in particular and informed that WHO is very much concerned for the provision of assistive devices/ technologies to persons with disabilities and this culture of independent living is being supported by WHO. She also introduced GATE initiate by WHO that addresses the need of Assistive Technology for persons with disabilities.
Ms. Maryam Mallick speaking to the Daily Pakistan on the burning issue of inclusion/counting of persons with disabilities in the coming census informed that persons with disabilities are the pivotal part of the society and they must be counted in this coming census exercise and there are efforts for it to be approved and campaign on social media has gained much appreciation from the masses that is commendable.
The shields and souvenirs were distributed among the dignities and organizers of this auspicious event that addressed the basic mobility needs and self-reliance of persons with disabilities.