HANDS has championed laws to encourage the inclusion of people with disability in all walks of life. Azhar Abbas was losing hope of being independent, but the support of HANDS has enabled him to help himself and others like him.
I am a teacher, brother, father, shop owner, and a family man. These are the things that define me, not my disability. I am Azhar Abbas from Jhandewali Muzaffargarh, and while people might think that my life is not worth much, I have proved them wrong.
Muscular Dystrophy is a progressive disease that has afflicted three of my six brothers and me. I found out about my condition when I was studying in the city for my FSC exams. I was sad, but I did not let it pull me down. I continued with my studies and got admitted to attend a local university to do my PHMSC (homeopathic degree). But here, I was unable to continue because there was no disability access.
As my health deteriorated, I was forced to come back home. But I didn’t want to give up, so I did a diploma in homeopathy, studied for my Bachelors in Arts (BA) degree, and also completed a dispensary course. I started work as a teacher when I cleared the test and got approved on the disabled quota in 2017.
My studies, work, and home life was being adversely affected with time. I was fortunate then, that the HANDS team visited my village. They offered my brothers and me, wheelchairs to help us become independent. But when they saw that my house was not wheelchair accessible, they renovated it so that now we can do many things without support from other people. Moreover, I can easily commute to school and also to the small shop I have opened for homeopathic and allopathic medicines and other items.
I am working with the HANDS team to create awareness about the causes of my condition – inter-family marriages. With the help of HANDS, I encourage people to marry out of their families.
I am grateful to HANDS because they have taken a long-term perspective. Not only have they helped people like me individually, but have also actively lobbied for better laws that help persons with disabilities to be a constructive part of society.