ISLAMABAD: As Gilgit-Baltistan moves towards a very crucial phase of the coronavirus pandemic, social activists, volunteers and concerned citizens of Gilgit-Baltistan living across the globe are coming forward to help hard-hit families back in their hometowns. Many businesses and enterprises have been affected following the extended lockdown, especially the tourism industry, which is one of the biggest contributors to the economy of Gilgit Baltistan.
We first met Ghulam Muhammad Baig who is originally from Hunza Valley and is one activist who is aiming to raise one million Pakistani Rupees to help the families in need especially those families who has a family member with a disability.
As a student of social sciences at the City of Glasgow College, Ghulam Muhammad Baig has teamed up with two other disability activists Amjad Nadeem and Irshad Kazmi, both from Gilgit-Baltistan, in a bid to not only raise funds for vulnerable individuals and families but also to raise awareness about children who have additional support needs and in general he is raising awareness about people with disabilities.
Ghulam Muhammad Baig is also an active social media activist. Through his social media awareness forum called The Gilgit Baltistan Goodwill Movement, he has been raising a voice on the issues of people with disabilities in Gilgit-Baltistan.
In a chat with us, Ghulam Muhammad Baig commented that in Gilgit-Baltistan, people with disabilities (PWDs) are already marginalized and are living in poverty, stating that in Gilgit-Baltistan they can find themselves facing a huge amount of societal problems. As a result, they might not receive proper care and even if they do, it is not up to the mark and never enough to cater their true needs.
He further added: “There are insufficient resources to aid the disabled citizens of Gilgit-Baltistan like food, fuel, shelter and the access to medical treatments, particularly in this current Coronavirus pandemic”.
Unfortunately, in Gilgit-Baltistan, there is no proper infrastructure that could provide special services to people with disabilities during this unprecedented pandemic of COVID-19. Families of people with disabilities are in uncertainty on how to alter their special care plans and are deeply concerned about how food and medical treatment will be provided during this lockdown.
He said that organizations like the Gilgit-Baltistan Disability Development Foundation are in dire need of resources to provide support to these disabled people living across Gilgit-Baltistan in tough situations.
According to Irshad Kazmi, the president of the Disability Development Foundation, there are as many as 15,000 registered PWDs in Gilgit-Baltistan. Amjad Nadeem, the Chairperson of the same foundation, has appealed to the masses across the world to come forward and donate to this COVID-19 fund that will go towards ‘helping the disabled people in Gilgit-Baltistan who need the most attention during these pressing times.
Speaking to GBee News, about how the funds would be used, Ghulam Muhammad Baig also said they want to ensure that the affected households have proper meals and medication within the community. In the future, they will also assess how the needs of the disabled people of Gilgit-Baltistan can be met. In the meanwhile, they will try to inform the families of the disabled about how to deal with Coronavirus if a disabled person gets affected. Raising awareness both nationally and internationally about the needs of disabled people remains their top agenda.
To donate to his cause, head to the fundraiser set up on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/donate/251667446019785/
He has also uploaded a YouTube video to show the extreme hardships of people with disabilities.