People with disabilities are among the most marginalised groups in the world. Despite having the potential, they often have lower education achievements and less economic participation due to lack of access. Disability is now understood to be a human rights issue. People are disabled by society, not just by their bodies. These barriers can be overcome, if governments, nongovernmental organisations, professionals and people with disabilities and their families work together.
Recently, fashion designer, TV host, director, and actor HSY hosted the NOWPDP (Network of Organizations Working for People with Disabilities, Pakistan) Tuk-tuk March as their goodwill ambassador in Karachi. NOWPDP is a disability inclusion initiative that works with the educational and economic empowerment of people with disabilities. Thus, the event was held to celebrate the right to livelihood and transport of people with disabilities. With inclusivity as the primary focus, the march was meant to empower people with disabilities and encourage them to pursue their rights to work and mobility.
The event kick started with an introduction by Omair Ahmad, the Executive Director of the organisation followed by a talk-show-style panel discussion hosted by the celebrated designer. The panellists for the march included renowned names such as Mahirah Khan, Wasim Akram, Sanam Saeed, Maya Ali, Ayesha Omar, Humayun Saeed, Feroz Khan and Bilal Ashraf. The discussion primarily focused on the purpose of the campaign and how it provides more opportunities for people with disabilities. After the segment, the pioneer of retrofitted rickshaws, Imran Ghanchi joined the stage to tell his story and how he developed rickshaws that are accessible for people with disabilities.
The discussion led to an introduction of the organisation trainees who arrived on stage and gave the ‘Friends of NOWPDP’ their rickshaw-themed colour bandanas as tokens of appreciation. After being presented with their bandanas, the superstars were invited to pledge to a NOWPDP project of choice. This was followed by a rickshaw drive around a famous square in the city.
HSY has previously collaborated with the establishment on several occasions, aiming to inspire and empower people with disabilities. The fashion icon has a rich history working alongside the organisation, further supporting their cause. He has stood steadfast in promoting the NOWPDP mandate of inclusivity and has visited their abode on several occasions to give motivational sessions. Now, as their official goodwill ambassador, he continues to put his best foot forward to help persons with disabilities.
– Wallia Khairi