Reyaz Ahmad Mir
People who want to know how disabled could be specially or differently abled must meet Javid Ahmad Tak, the man on wheelchair. He is an amazing person. Despite being living with severe spine injury, Javid Ahmad wonderfully transforms the virtual dead lives of hundreds of children.
He has proved the redefinition of disability right. At his tender youth age, he got his spine injured. He was half dead but his determination and spirit to live not only made him able to live a dignified life but he also turned to be a model for normal people who want to live a soulful life like him.
Even being in bed for almost two years, Tak used to teach students free of cost in the realm of social service and to come out of trauma.
He continued his education and did B.ed and pursued courses in Human Rights and Computer Science and finally did his speciality in Social Work.
His vision to make the persons with disabilities to live independently, is his mission. He has a lot of contribution in the field rather much more than a normal person can do.
Attending conferences, speaking in debates and advising authorities viz a viz policy on specially abled children as a professional social worker is outstanding, widely recognised and rewarded.
Tak isHonorary Chairman of Humanity Welfare Organisation (Helpline), a caring organisation for disabled children. Under the major initiative of the organisation, JavidTak opened a school for disabled children - ZaibAapa Institute of Inclusive Education, at Bijbehara, Islamabad in 2005.
ZaibAapa, a local graceful lady, has made a tremendous contribution as a social worker in Bijbehara and around. Acknowledging the selfless contribution of ZaibAapa, a popular name in the area, Mr Tak associated his work and initiatives with her.
I was moved to see the dedication, affection and enthusiasm of teachers and management of the school. It is not easy to deal with almost hundred children with varied disabilities and to teach them is really difficult.
Taking care of mentally retarded or Cerebral Palsy affected children, imparting education and teaching them life skills are more than herculean task.
They are providing Special Education for Mentally Disabled, Braille Education to Visually Impaired, Sign Language to Hearing Disabled children in an amazing way. The school is also catering the recreational, sports, cultural and artistic needs of the students who had, otherwise, been left to their fate. The students were seen picking up more than the normal student can do.
The school is providing vocational trainings to its students to ensure them that they are embedded with speciality to perform as dignified citizens as the normal persons do. There is a regular provision of Physiotherapy facilities for orthopedically impaired children in the school, speech therapy for hearing disabled, computer education using JAWS or talking software for visually impaired children etc.
The parent organisation of the school headed by Tak provide outdoor services in 10 Intervention Villages with 18 bed ridden children suffering from Cerebral Palsy. The organisation is putting its efforts and to support their rehabilitation at their home.
The professional staff visit their homes to provide the services on weekly basis and train their parents and siblings how to take care of these children.
Sharing some more heart wrenching observations in ZaibAapa Institute of Education, Bjbehara, can make us realise the noble services the man, himself dependent on Wheelchair, provides to make children with disabilities independent in life.
Five-year-old, Zaara (name changed), is the youngest entry at ZaibAapa School. She suffers from rare Rett Syndrome – a genetic disorder found in one among 20 thousand girls, as said by the experts. Zaara hardly makes eye contact with anyone, neither does she interact. She lacks any verbal skills. All she can say is her own name.
"When she had turned two, her coordination power weakened, hyperactivities were predominant. There was loss of speech and she would become uncontrollable as well", said Javid Ahmad Tak.
When she turns hyperactive, she starts eating her own skin as was told to this writer. But the teachers and management are quite hopeful that Zaara would show improvements as she is learning coordination after being provided the services required for such children.
The story of brother-sister duo, Mehran Syed and Alfa Syed, born deaf and dumb, is encouraging. Mehran, a bright boy who studies in 4th standard, can copy dance steps of Prince, one of the participants at Dance India Dance TV show, flawlessly.
“He is good at motion style dance. When he dances it is hard to tell that he cannot speak and hear,” says RifatSadiq, a Psychologist working with ZaibaAppa. “For him dance is a way of expressing himself.”
The institute helps these children to participate in various competitions to boost their morale. “We have a huge collection of certificates and medals won by these kids,” says Rifat.
Alfa has friendship with Jasmeen, one of the most beautiful girls inside the facility. She too is deaf and dumb like Alfa and her brother.
“Without exchanging a word they (Afla and Jasmeen) understand and coordinate amazingly with each other and excellently doing in their studies,” says Rifat.
As I wrote, ZaibaAppa Institute was established by Javid Ahmad Tak, who manages the facility despite being himself in a severely bad condition. “I wanted to get these kids out of the darkest corners of their houses and give them a respectable space to live,” says Tak.
“These differently-abled kids have created a small world of their own in this institute, a world different from the one outside its doors. These kids are not burden but a source of happiness for me,” says Tak emotionally.
But managing these kids is not an easy job always, we must acknowledge the courage and determination of Javid he is filled with.
A small room located at the corner of the institute is out-of-bounds for everyone including visitors. The room belongs to nineteen-year-old, Sabah (name changed). Her unpredictable behaviour has forced teachers to isolate her from other kids. She is mentally retarded.
“She has no idea of modesty. Once she gets violent she starts tearing her clothes,” says Rifat.
Before coming to ZaibaAppa for specialised care, Sabah's parents has kept her chained in a room, as was told during the visit. But her condition is changed now. When Director School Education Kashmir paid a visit to this unique school, he entered every classroom and met every student and teacher.
Sabah presented a popular rhyme, twinkle twinkle little star...., in a joyful way, while interacting with Director. This in fact brought tears in every eye watching the scene. She has now learned basic life skills too in the School.
"For Zakia, 14, who suffers from retina cancer, life was meaningless to her. She had a dream to become a doctor, but was brought to the mat more by her relatives telling her that she won’t be able to do anything in life with such an ailment," says Farhat Shah, an intern Psychologist at ZaibaAppa.
“We helped her believe in herself.” Shah added.
I was told that within no time Zakia started responding to. "I told her, ‘what if you cannot become a doctor. You have soulful voice; you can be a great singer’.” Shah encouraged her.
"In next few days there was a visible change in Zakia. She has now set her eyes on Radio Jockeying (RJ). She is fluent in English. She can host shows in English as well. Nothing is impossible for such a bright and talented girl,” Farhat said quite confidently.
ZaibAapa Institute of Inclusive Education is doing what a government in welfare state was supposed to do. When the man who is himself in severe problems does wonders, why can't you, me and others including the government agencies.
The school is desperately in need of disable-friendly accommodation. Their own building block is under construction waiting for the generous help from society and state. They immediately need 25-seater bus for transportation of their students belonging to all four districts of South Kashmir.
We are faraway in recognising the rights of differently abled persons. This is reflecting everywhere in offices, hospitals, public transport, recreational places, educational institutions etc as no special care of such an important section of society is seemed to be taken when buildings are constructed, roads are made, public parks are shaped or public is dealt.
Well done, JavidAhamdTak. You are opening our eyes and heart. You are really an epitome of inspiration for all us who want to do.