As Gilgit-Baltistan moves towards a very crucial phase of the coronavirus pandemic, Ismaili social activists, volunteers and concerned citizens of Gilgit-Baltistan living across the globe are coming forward to help hard-hit families back in their hometowns. Many businesses and enterprises have been affected following the extended lockdown, especially the tourism industry, which is one of the biggest contributors to the economy of Gilgit Baltistan.
As an Ismaili and a proud overseas citizen of the Hunzai Ismaili community, I am aiming to raise £5,000 (9,000 US dollars) to help those families whose family member has a disability.
As a student of social sciences at the City of Glasgow College, I have teamed up with two other disability activists, Amjad Nadeem and Irshad Kazmi, who are both from Gilgit-Baltistan, in a bid to not only raise funds for vulnerable individuals and families but also to raise awareness about children who have additional support needs and generally raising awareness about people with disabilities.
Through my social media awareness forum called The Gilgit Baltistan Goodwill Movement, I have been raising a voice on issues of people with disabilities in Gilgit-Baltistan.
In Gilgit-Baltistan, people with disabilities (PWDs) are already marginalised and are living in poverty. Not only that a disabled person in Gilgit-Baltistan can find themselves facing a huge amount of societal problems; as a result, they might not receive proper care and even if they do, it is not up to the mark and never enough to cater their true needs.
A self-analysis is that unfortunately in Gilgit-Baltistan, there is no proper infrastructure that could provide care to people with disabilities during this unprecedented pandemic of COVID-19. Families of people with disabilities are in uncertainty on how to alter their special care plans and are deeply concerned about how food and medical treatment will be provided during this lockdown.
We have an ongoing organisation with whom we are working with which is the Gilgit-Baltistan Disability Development Foundation. They are in dire need of resources to provide support to these disabled people living across Gilgit-Baltistan in these adverse circumstances.
According to Irshad Kazmi, one of the persons I have interviewed who is also the president of the Disability Development Foundation, there are as many as 15,000 registered PWDs in Gilgit-Baltistan. The second person that I have interviewed, Amjad Nadeem, the Chairperson of the same foundation, has appealed to the masses across the world to come forward and donate to this COVID-19 fund that will go towards ‘helping the disabled people in Gilgit-Baltistan who need the most attention during these pressing times.
With the funds collected, my team’s goal is to ensure that the affected households have proper meals and medication within the community. We will also educate the families of the disabled about how to deal with Coronavirus if a disabled person gets affected. Raising awareness, both nationally and internationally, about the needs of disabled people, remains my top priority.
To donate to Ghulam’s cause, head to the fundraiser set up on Facebook: Ghulam’s disability fundraiser