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Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!

by Network of Organizations Working for People with Disabilities, Pakistan
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Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Put people with disabilities in the driving seat!
Ration distribution team
Ration distribution team

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.

Welfare

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

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.

Webinars

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. 

Call center setup for ration distribution
Call center setup for ration distribution
Online skills development classes
Online skills development classes
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A glimpse of The Rickshaw Project training
A glimpse of The Rickshaw Project training

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.

The rickshaws and team at "Aurat March"
The rickshaws and team at "Aurat March"
Sultan.
Sultan.
Abid.
Abid.
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Beating the heat
Beating the heat

We have had an exceptional summer at The Rickshaw Project. Not only did we involve our fleet by 3 rickshaws, we have had an opportunity to involve our drivers in activities that enabled them to help individuals.

As this year has been labelled one of the hottest we have experienced, we took this opportunity to collaborate with Nestle, and help provide chilled water to traffic wardens across the city. One can only wonder and be astonished at how these individuals stand in the heat, despite the sun bearing down on them and slight increase in temperature due to the many cars on the road. Our drivers were keen to extend their thanks and volunteered their services for the day and contribute however much possible.

NOWPDP has embarked on an initiative to combat plastic pollution by developing eco-conscious, gender sensitive and disability inclusive sustainable tote bags. This is an initiative to contribute positively toward the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Our rickshaws are deeply involved in this initiative, they offer their services by:

-          Picking up cloth from mills that wish to donate their excess materials

-          Delivering cloths back and forth for stitching, especially to women who stitch but are unable to leave their house

-          Deliver to individuals who have purchased these bags

Currently our fleet has increased to 12 rickshaws, with your help we wish to cross the 20 mark by the end of 2019. It is truly a remarkable moment, when an individual who was helpless in the past is taking pride in contributing in helping humanity.

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Union Council Office
Union Council Office

Ever since I started managing The Rickshaw Project, I have been busy getting myself acquainted to the processes and revising our SOPs.

A few updates since our last report:

Revision of SOPS & Stakeholder Feedback 

We have streamlined our recruitment program. From identification of a needful person with disability to training and handing over of rickshaws. We have also set up a monthly group meeting with the drivers and my team, in which they share their experiences with each other. This is also an opportunity for the drivers to discuss and give feedback, which we employ for TRP.

Sensitization and Awareness Sessions 

Team TRP with the assistance of NOWPDP’s outreach department held a sensitization session in one of Karachi’s many marginalized and disenfranchised communities. The session was held in the Union Councillor’s office in Machar Colony (Fisherman’s Colony). This colony is perhaps one of the biggest colony in Karachi, with lanes wide enough only for 2 people abreast to walk in. Our rickshaws with their skilled drivers proved useful in navigating those lanes and reaching our destination.


We educated the attendees of the session as to what we as an NGO do and invited the disabled of the community to visit our offices.

Marketing & Celebrity Rides 

In the month of April, Danish Ambassador to Pakistan, Mr. Rolf Holmboe, visited our office. We took him around Karachi like a true Karachiite in our hand-controlled rickshaw driven by our colleague with disability (video attached).

Growth of the Fleet 

TRP has been able to meet its targets of expanding its fleet. In the last 3 months we have been able to add 3 more rickshaws – taking our total to 10 rickshaws. Training for 3 potential drivers is underway and pretty soon they will be on the road.

Proposed business growth in Health and Waste Management sector 

We are currently in the planning stage of developing rickshaws besides the ride hailing model. We are working on these other opportunities in order to expand on our SDG goals profile. Currently the options we are working on are Waste Management, Ambulance Rickshaw (for hard to reach areas) and Water tanked rickshaw, but more on that later.

Rickshaw Project represent!
Rickshaw Project represent!

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Meet Anwar - Economically Empowered
Meet Anwar - Economically Empowered

For the past 3 years our team has been focusing on vocational training for people with disabilities, teaching women with hearing or visual impairments skills that could help them navigate through society. They have been helping teaching computer skills to individuals and helping them in getting jobs in companies. 

 

Upon recently joining NOWPDP as a consultant Physical Therapist, I came across The Rickshaw Project. Working with patients who have disabilities most of my professional life, apart from physically being impaired, their mental health is also a growing issue. One of the biggest reasons for this is their feeling helpless in providing sustenance for themselves or their families. The Rickshaw Project was a way of helping these individuals and much more. I personally took the initiative in reviving this project. 

 

Since June 2018, the project has evolved. We have taken the rickshaws that were being used as pick & drop services and have started renting them out to drivers to use as a taxiing passenger service across the city. The reason for that, as I explained earlier, is that apart from physical intervention, a mental intervention is also much needed for people with disabilities. 

 

Our drivers who have transitioned into this model are now proudly self-employed. They pay us a daily rent of Rupees 200 (1.3 USD), and take home the rest of their earnings. This has been a self-sustaining model for past year and has helped us in expanding our fleet. We have now 7 rickshaws in our fleet and 30 people in-waiting already gone through their trainings.

 

We would like to expand our fleet further to provide more people with opportunities to become self-employed. The funds generated by rent collection will sustain this model in the years to come, additionally, some of the funds can be used to help other projects spearheaded by NOWPDP. By the end of 2019, we would like to see 100 retrofitted rickshaws on the streets of Karachi. 

Your help in the previous years has been a huge help in getting where we are right now.     

If you have any question, please contact me at info@nowpdp.org 

 

Faheem Khan

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Organization Information

Network of Organizations Working for People with Disabilities, Pakistan

Location: Karachi, Sindh - Pakistan
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @NOWPDP
Project Leader:
Omair Ahmad
Executive Officer
Karachi, Sindh Pakistan
$10,989 raised of $50,000 goal
 
137 donations
$39,011 to go
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