It’s no secret that people with disabilities in Pakistan get the shorter end of the stick.
Except for a few token quota jobs designated for differently abled Pakistanis, there are rarely any opportunities. Universities and schools do not cater to their needs as a result, the people have to go to specialized schools for them to further their feelings of alienation and of being the ‘other’.
And even armed with an education and skills as good as the next candidate, people with disabilities in Pakistan, rarely ever get hired. Private companies and other employers deem them as less worthy of the job even if their skill sets match the position perfectly.
And such is the story of Shahbaz, who slowly lost his eyesight until he was classified as legally blind and now needs help for doing even little things in everyday life.
Shahbaz’s mother went blind about 13 years ago. And Shahbaz’s own illness crept up on him at a young age.
Shahbaz got diagnosed with glaucoma when he was just 14 and as these last four years have passed, the disease has all but taken Shahbaz’s vision. I talked to Shahbaz on the phone, and while I tried to wrap my head around the feeling of losing your vision at the young age of 18, Shahbaz radiated positivity on the call and did not at all seem hung up over his disability.
Even before his diagnosis, Shahbaz wanted to go into software engineering and his plans remain the same. I asked him whether he thought he would still be able to go into this field considering he has now lost his vision, he said he was completely confident because he knew hard work and God’s grace would carry him through.
He always wanted to be someone who succeeded on his own and losing his eyesight has not stopped his drive to do exactly that. When Shahbaz’s eyesight started getting worse, he worried about how he would give his board exams, but surprisingly, the Sindh board was incredibly cooperative and made a special bigger font sized paper especially for him. Now that his eyesight has gotten even worse, Shahbaz gets around with the help of his family and friends. Shahbaz is currently in his first year in college and is doing pretty well.
But, even with the right qualification, Shahbaz is unable to find a job.
Shahbaz needs employment right now so he can help out with finances at home since his father is a tea boy and can only earn so much. An NGO by the name of NOWPDP is helping him out in finding the right job. Shahbaz himself prides himself on his ability to communicate well and having talked to him on the phone, I agree. He hopes to find a job in a call centre or as a receptionist, and I truly hope he does since his family is going through a tough time financially and need the income.
The job will make all the difference in the lives of Shahbaz and his family members.
You can listen to Shahbaz tell you more about himself in the video below: