“When I was seven years old, I fell off the roof of my house and that’s when my whole world changed. I was hospitalized for months and all my family’s savings went into my surgeries. Growing up, I always had to depend on others for their support, physically and financially. But today I cannot believe I am saying this, but I am a trained rickshaw driver and finally have my own rickshaw! I am so thankful to everyone who helped me get where I am today”
Thanks to your continued support, Akber was able to get his own rickshaw. He is now seen driving around the streets of Karachi to support his family.
We are grateful to you for your unwavering support towards furthering the cause of diability inclusion in Pakistan. It is people like you who choose to make a difference everyday. Please continue to support us in moving people and changing lives by supporting the Rickshaw Project.
“My name is Adnan and I am a recent graduate of the rickshaw driving training by NOWPDP. I worked as a salesman at a car workshop. My pay was less but the work was demanding – more so for me because of the inaccessible workplace. I worked hard to earn a living for myself and my three children but with increasing expenses, my income was nowhere near sufficient. I had to depend on others to support my family and I hated it the most. Few months back, I got to know about NOWPDP’s Rickshaw Project from my friend and I enrolled in it to learn rickshaw driving and basic mechanics.
I never thought in my life that I can learn something that has the possibility of making me self-sufficient. Just as I finished my training, I was connected to a volunteer (Adeena) based in Lahore, who started a campaign to raise funding for my own rickshaw. Yes, my own rickshaw. Trust me, I never imagined that I will ever be able to own something. Just today, I was called at the NOWPDP’s office where they surprised me with this life changing gift.
I am thankful to all the donors, supporters and well-wisher for changing my life.”
We are grateful to you and everyone who continue to play their vital role in changing lives of people with disabilities every day. Please continue to support us in moving people and changing lives by supporting the Rickshaw Project.
NOWPDP recently hosted its biggest public event featuring our hand-controlled fleet of rickshaws driven by our colleague with disabilities. Titled as “TukTuk March”, Pakistan’s leading celebrities partnered with our rickshaw drivers to give a message of inclusion and the right to work.
Some of the celebrities who participated include Mahira Khan, Humayun Saeed, Wasim Akram, Feroze Khan, Maya Ali, Sanam Saeed, Ayesha Omar, Bilal Ashraf, and HSY. The event was widely covered by mainstream media and it remained a major social media highlight in Pakistan.
The entire premise of hosting this march was to showcase the message that if opportunities are created, people with disabilities can do anything. This also worked as a medium to increase the support base, so more people can come forward and help us expand the fleet.
We have a waitlist of persons with disabilities, who are looking to get hand-controlled rickshaws and your support can change their lives. Help us bring persons with disabilities in the driving seat!
With the COVID-19 pandemic gripping the world, persons with disabilities being one of the largest marginalized communities have been going through even more economic ordeals. With an impending lockdown, no time was lost and swift actions were taken. NOWPDP was one of the first organizations of its kind to move to the digital space to ensure that physical interaction of any sort is curbed.
With this “new normal” emerging, NOWPDP’s main mission became: Welfare. Skills. Livelihood.
In this time of uncertainty, NOWPDP has received generous support from our well-wishers with the goal to ensure 3500 people with disabilities not only receive rations but also a large chunk of them get skills development training so that they can focus on becoming economically independent.
A great emphasis on welfare has been prioritizing survival and sustenance. NOWPDP has been striving to ensure that 3500 people with disabilities across Sindh receive rations. The ration includes basic staple items such as wheat flour, rice, lentils, etc. NOWPDP drops rations to their homes and also distributes it in camps in their respective cities. All precautionary and hygienic measures are taken to protect both the recipients and the team. Our Rickshaw Project drivers played a major role in moving these rations in different areas, so it reaches the most deserving individuals.
Call Center by persons with disabilities for ration drive
A purpose-built call center setup was brought forth for the ration drive, where the call center agents are all persons with disabilities including the team lead. They all have to go through comprehensive data and sift through it, filter and verify it by calling the individuals who fit the ration eligibility criteria. The fieldwork of distributing ration could not have been possible without their assistance. This initiative has also generated employment in the time of COVID-19 because all the Call Center Agents receive stipends.
Skills development is one of the main pillars that NOWPDP emphasizes on. Acquiring a skill development training has a great chance of bolstering an individual’s probability to secure employment. Similarly, the team decided to focus on such training even more so that persons with disabilities have more economic opportunities as COVID-19 subsides. Therefore, with the lockdown coming in the scenario, the team lost no time in stopping all physical classes and moving them to digital space for everybody’s safety.
This was a change that nobody had prepared for and what ensued was very commendable despite being challenging. The teaching style and curriculum were worked upon and the most important facet of this initiative was to ensure that both trainees and trainers with disability find this change accessible. Therefore, people with visual disability were guided on the kind of software to use and people with hearing and speech disability had a sign language interpreter at all times. It is much to the team’s delight that the attendance in digital classes was 75% with fewer dips than expected. The training to immediately move to digital platforms were Computer Operations and Call Center.
Despite the physical operations halting, we decided to use digital media to connect and communicate. For years now, we have worked to create an online community that is representative and includes our beneficiaries. Therefore, we ventured into having webinars and using social media tools to connect, boost morale, and give out important information.
As highlighted in the picture, the First Lady of Pakistan was also present during our first webinar and even sent in a message on the platform. The webinar was on“COVID-19: Persons with Disabilities - How to prevent it; what to do if affected?”
We do not know when this ordeal will end and what this would mean for all of us but what we do know is that we will strive to make this world a better and more inclusive place for all. There is still a lot of work to be done which is why your support is a great driving force for NOWPDP to transform the lives of as many people with disabilities as possible.
* Permissions were taken from the people used in this report.
With NOWPDP emphasizing a lot on innovative measures for people with disabilities, the Rickshaw Project is expanding fast as we speak. The Rickshaw Project has rickshaws of an unconventional kind. These rickshaws are retrofitted such that all control comes in the hands which means people with lower limb disabilities can drive a whole vehicle by themselves.
Apart from these rickshaws, extensive training is given to people with disabilities at the NOWPDP Training Center which imparts skills-development training to people with disabilities. Only last year, 428 individuals were trained. The premise behind this skills-development training is to ensure that the prospective drivers have not only mastered a skill but can maneuver the vehicles with great finesse for their own and everybody else’s safety. The rickshaw driving training at NOWPDP Training Center consists of teaching drivers how to drive a retrofitted rickshaw, the possible routes one can take, traffic rules and repair – maintenance if the vehicle breaks down.
The drivers that score the most through a stringent criteria get to have the retrofitted rickshaw on lease which helps them earn a livelihood that they were not earning before.
This year, the rickshaws have been put to a brave and noble use. "Aurat March" or Women March was held on the International Women’s Day in Karachi where people with disabilities were also covered extensively in their mandate. In solidarity, our rickshaws driven by our beneficiaries with disabilities drove with the march carrying assistive devices, water and marchers with disabilities, pregnant or the elderly. This was a gesture that was not missed by many.
Here are some testimonials of our brilliant rickshaw drivers who have started earning their livelihood through The Rickshaw Project. You can support more Sultans and Abids by donating to the project and helping us reiterate that people with disabilities can do anything they set their minds to!
“I do come to NOWPDP even now after my training because of the bond I have developed with the organization and the people in it. This place gives me hope. When I received the rickshaw after the rickshaw driving training from NOWPDP, my family members invited everybody and celebrated and prayed and that filled me with me immense joy. I am very careful with the rickshaw that I have now. It is my way of earning a livelihood and supporting my family. For me it is my best friend, my identity and I guard it with everything I have.” - Sultan has a physical disability.
“I used to be a bus conductor despite the fact that I have a lower limb disability. I did everything with great finesse even though the work involved a lot of movement. But after a point, I was made to leave. I came to NOWPDP looking for some way to turn my life around. People had spoken well about this place. I received training in rickshaw driving and then I received my rickshaw. I have been able to earn for myself and family again and I have also gotten to cherish my relationship with NOWPDP.” - Abid has a physical disability
* Necessary permissions were taken from the individuals for using their names and pictures.
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