Students of the army-run Umeed Special Education School on Monday participated in a ceremony held to mark the International Day of People with Disabilities. The day is observed worldwide on December 3.
Governor Mehtab Abbasi was the chief guest at the event organised by the ISPR. Schoolchildren presented tableaus, national songs and speeches in the ceremony attended by army personnel and parents.
Unlike many other children, nine-year-old Zohaib cannot see; he lost sight in both his eyes in a bomb blast in Waziristan in 2009. Standing on the stage for his speech, he said, “I’m Zohaib. I’m nine years old. I’m amazing. I am clever, courageous and happy. I’m unique and beautiful. Most importantly, I’m me.”
The militants might have taken away his sight but they could not break his spirit or desire to study.
Salman and Hamza, both mute, presented a parody of famous Hollywood movie Titanic which left the audience highly amused. In his address, Governor Mehtab expressed the hope that Umeed School would serve as a beacon from which other education institutes can learn.
While speaking to The Express Tribune, Maham, a visually-impaired student who had recited a naat, said: “I could not see the audience but I could feel that they appreciated my performance.”
Maham studies at the school with her sister Rimsha who also suffers from visual impairment. “We learn, play and spend time together. We enjoy life,” said Maham. According to Umeed Special Education School Principal Sofia Tabassum, the institute was founded on December 3, 2008 and is equipped with modern facilities. The Pakistan Army’s XI Corps bears the school’s expenses.
“At the moment, 75 children with disabilities are enrolled, 50 boys and 25 girls,” said Tabassum. She added the school provides physiotherapy, artificial limbs, wheelchairs and several other facilities.
“Students are also given training in painting, cooking, stitching and other activities,” said the principal.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2014.