FESF: Changing The Lives Of Deaf People In Pakistan
Deaf people in Pakistan face numerous challenges every single day. However, their disability never seems to stop them from achieving their goals in life. Overtime, this is the biggest change observed in the society where Deafness was (and in some areas, still is) the most commonly ignored disability. Family Education Services Foundation (FESF), working for the Deaf rights and empowerment plan since 1984, has played a huge role in bringing about this change.
“My name is Ali. Can you help me find a job?” was the question posed by an insecure young, deaf man in 1999 when he walked into FESF’s first Deaf Reach Training Centres in Karachi. Seeing his undeniably positive and resourceful abilities and skills, he was immediately hired as Deaf Reach’s first teachers.
There were many others like Ali, only difference being they were mostly mistaken as being mentally challenged or were simply denied the opportunity to work. Richard Geary, the founder of Deaf Reach Program, said, “If we view the Deaf community not as a disability group, but as a minority culture that speaks another language (sign language), our perception changes. We then realize that to succeed the Deaf simply need empowerment through education; the same opportunity that is everyone’s right.”
Nadeem, 27, is the eldest child and primary breadwinner of a family of six. Unlike others in similar situations, Nadeem is deaf. His confidence, self belief and determination has made his story inspirational to those facing similar challenges.
Similarly, Riffat, one of the most devoted and enthusiastic teachers at Deaf Reach, with her large smile and welcoming personality, she is somone who is not hard to spot in a classroom. Riffat, who is deaf herself is a proud mother of three deaf sons who are regular students at Deaf Reach School since several years.
There are many whose stories are still left untold and there are many more whose lives are yet to be changed. Deaf Reach, a project of Family Education Services Foundation (FESF) envisions a future where there is quality education for all deaf children in Pakistan. Since the 1990’s, Deaf Reach has played an active role in and aims to continue: