Kashmir Indepth

This disabled man helps people amid COVID-19 lockdown in Kashmir

Sumaya Jan 

SRINAGAR, August 12(KINS): Lying on a bed, Javaid Ahmad Tak, 44, remains busy the whole day collecting details about the needy disabled population. 

Hailing from South Kashmir’s Bijbehara area, he has been on the forefront to lend helping hand to disabled people of the valley amid the COVID-19 lockdown. 

Tak can’t walk or stand on his legs for the last 23-years. But that has not broken his willpower to help the people.

Despite his physical limitations, he has taken up a task to back the smile on the faces of disabled population. 

“Since the lockdown began, I and my team have been collecting details about needy disabled people and then providing them financial support. We also provide eatables and medicines. During the COVID-19 period, we have helped over 1,800 needy families, majority have disabled persons,  across Kashmir. Food items and other necessities are dropped at their homes by our volunteers,” Tak told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS).

He has been collecting public donations to run his non-government organization ‘Humanity Welfare Organization Helpline’.  “My NGO’s priority is to help disabled people,” he says.

His NGO is also running Zebunnisa Helpline School in Bijbehara where 103 disabled children are enrolled.

He however regrets that children with disabilities were not able to attend online classes amid lockdown. “Schools used to have classes in Braille language but these children are not able to attend to the virtual mood of education these days. Their education has been badly hit by the lockdown,” Tak said.

These children have become more reclusive since the lockdown began.

He says there are 90,000 children with disabilities in Kashmir. A recent survey conducted in various parts of the country including in Kashmir by Swabhiman, a community-based organization working for the rights of persons with disability, says a majority of students with disabilities, in response to a survey, have said that online learning was proving to be a big hurdle to them.

“About 56.5% of students with disabilities said they were struggling, yet attending classes irregularly, while around 77% of students said they would not be able to cope and would fall behind in learning due to their inability to access distance learning methods,” it says.

Tak was not born disabled. He has been the victim of the ongoing conflict. He was a normal person and had gone to his uncle’s home in 1997, who was Block President of the mainstream party National Conference. He was then pursuing his bachelors from Anantnag Degree College in South Kashmir.

“Some unknown gunmen had come to kidnap my uncle. They fired bullets. Several bullets hit me and damaged my spinal code. I was hospitalized for two years. Since then I can’t walk and move only on a wheelchair,” he narrated, whose lower part is paralysed.

Later, he did his masters in Social Works from the Kashmir University in 2005-2006.

Before the tragic incident he was also selected for MBBS in Iran. But that incident shattered all his dreams.

Disabled people are facing a lot of issues, says Tak adding, “society is not accepting them. There is a social stigma attached to us. People can give their daughters to drug addicts but not disabled person”.

Since the lockdown began, people with disabilities have been facing a number of problems. They are finding it difficult to manage the day-to-day chores.(KINS)

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