With a cane in one hand and a book in the other, Noroze Khan, a resident of Charsadda, is often seen encouraging people to pursue their dreams without getting waylaid by obstacles.
The 28-year-old has always put this principle to practice. He might have lost his eyesight but he has not allowed this to become an impediment to his dream.
He left his village 15 years ago to get an education. Noroze successfully completed his secondary school certificate from a school for differently-abled students in Sheikh Maltoon, Mardan. He then decided to apply to a college in Lahore which caters to the needs of people with visual impairment.
Noroze’s father died in 2010 and he helped his six brothers sell vegetables on pushcarts at a bazaar in Charsadda. “However, I needed considerable support to do this job and soon realised I couldn’t do it anymore,” he says. “So I decided to leave the village to get an education.”
According to Noroze, none of his brothers have contacted him over the past 15 years. He faced countless obstacles along the way but nothing could deter him from achieving his aspirations to get a good education.
“This hasn’t discouraged me from continuing my studies,” he adds.
He says, “My educational institution covered all my expenses and, with the help of the government and my teachers, I have been able to achieve my dream.”
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Noroze says people suffering from disabilities should not become a burden on their families and must take control of their own lives and destinies.
“They are very much like everyone else and can accomplish all that they set their minds to,” he explains.
Noroze says there is no specific institution in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa for people with visual impairment and urged the provincial government to establish one.
“It is very difficult for people to travel to other cities and districts,” he said.
According to the data Noroze has compiled with the help of his friends, there are around 15,000 people with visual impairment in K-P.
“However, there is not a single registered organisation in K-P which can assist them,” he adds.
According to Noroze, even if they manage to get an education, the future seems bleak since no one is willing to hire them.
“The government has allocated an employment quota of 2% for people suffering from disabilities but it has not been properly implemented in the country,” Noroze says. “People need to have more faith in us and need not treat us like a burden to the economy.”
He adds, “We are not a liability and have the ability to work. We just need opportunities.” He pressed the provincial government to provide people with disabilities a monthly stipend so they can break away from the cycle of dependency they find themselves in.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2015.