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Dr. Nouman Mushtaq- Hyderabad- Sindh:

Pakistan’s 1st visually challenged Registered Doctor of Medicine Nouman Mushtaq, Born on 21st October 1992, in Jamshoro. My Parents realized, that I had night blindness by birth and I had problems to seek out things at night time, but as I grew up It was diagnosed that I had been suffering from Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). RP is an inherited or gene mutated disease in which patient by birth cannot see at the night time or at the dark place and gradually day vision lost and led me to complete blindness.

Now I am a low vision at this stage. I am not able to recognize difference between light and dark and colors in heavy lights. I can neither read nor write any text from books and from boards in normal lights.

I was introduced to Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness (PFFB) in year 2010. It offered me a lot of opportunities to enhance my communication, mobility and IT skills. Mentors and success stories urged me to take a challenge and realizing my dream of becoming a Doctor. In 2011, I got enrolled in Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D), in Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sindh. PFFB provided me with helpful material in Pharma studies and made Knowledge accessible to me. Facing and overcoming problems I completed my Pharm D in 2015 and became first Blind Pharmacist of Pakistan. On other side, I actively participated in various youth and Pharmacy programs and received awards and certificates in the events like World Pharmacist Day, National Youth Leadership Conference for Disables, Youth Icon of Hyderabad by Ministry of Youth and sports in 2015 and Best Delegate award in NKMUN. My hard work given me results, when I got selected for one year National Internship Program in 2016 and had an opportunity to teach in Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sindh. I went for higher studies in Islamia University of Bahawalpur and now visiting teacher in Faculty of Pharmacy and Alternative Medicine, Islamia University of Bahawalpur.

Every success story has many supportive pillars behind it, just like that I also want to name and thank to all those first I want to thank to my Parents, spouse, family members and friends who always believe in me and support me that I can achieve what I dream. I want to thank my school and college teaching staff and feel thankful to faculty dean and his team of Faculty of Pharmacy University of Sindh, Teachers and colleagues from Islamia University of Bahawalpur and at last special thanks to PFFB.

Bakhtawar Khalid- Islamabad:

At the age of twenty one (21), I was diagnosed with retinal eye disease called Retinits Pigmentosa (RP), due to which I gradually started to lose my sight. At the time, I was studying to become a dentist. As the loss of sight was gradual in nature, I was able to complete bachelors in dentistry, but was unable to practice. This was a trying time, as I had a condition, which no one around me had experienced.

My mother saw a PTV show, where representatives from Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness were present including Ms. Rabail Pirzada- Chief Coordinator PFFB.  As soon as I finished bachelors my mother took me to PFFB Office. I still remember my first visit to PFFB, where I met my Mentor Ms. Rabail Pirzada, she gave us an orientation of the organization and during all the discussion my mother could not figure out that she was herself visually impaired. Since that day the rehabilitation process started. I was offered a safe space to discuss issues I was facing. Through counseling and peer learning, I was able to regain my confidence. At first I was reluctant to use white cane in public, but my Mentors in PFFB encouraged me to see it as an assistive device and to carry it as an honor badge. I also learned to use computer as visually impaired person with screen reading software for the very first time. I was trained in personality grooming and later on, I was assigned to train other individuals as a Master trainer.  This gave me a confidence on my abilities.

In the month of July 2018, I also represented PFFB in South Korea at an international leadership program for Youth with Disability. This was an amazing experience, as I was part of a group consisting of ten different Asia-Pacific countries. There I learned about the global initiatives of Persons with Disabilities. Though there were other members, who were also low vision and did not carry their white cane, but I carried my white cane with pride. All the capacity building trainings and support from PFFB enabled me to acquire a job as Research Associate at Accountability Lab – International Organization based in Islamabad.

Nasrullah Shahwani- Quetta, Baluchistan:

Nasurullah is resident of Quetta Baluchistan. He is visually impaired since birth, and performing remarkably well in the area where awareness is near to the ground. He started his education in special education complex Quetta, since special education of Baluchistan is not fully established yet, therefore he had to privately study after 8th standard till graduation. While his studies from matriculation till graduation, he kept in touch with PFFB, and obtained courses for his matriculation, intermediate, and graduation exams. He passed his exams with good marks, currently he is employed in Baluchistan University, and also working with Pakistan Association for the Blind (PAB) as General Secretary.

Ghulam Abbas Zahid- Quetta, Baluchistan:

Mr. Abbas was born in Quetta Baluchistan. He lost his sight due to retinal degenerative disease known as Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), and currently has gone blind totally. His vision started deteriorating at the age of 18 when he was in 8th grade. But his determination kept him going, and he continued his studies in mainstream education. Although problems of facilities and lack of awareness were immense, however he was determine to make a difference in his society. He completed his graduation with the help of PFFB Audio world, and currently serving as Braille Instructor in Visually Impaired Department, Government Special Education Complex, Quetta. 

Rabail Pirzada- Multan, Southern Punjab:

Rabail is resident of Multan, and was born in 1989. A charming girl she was and perfectly normal. She started her education in normal school, and she was a kind of student who was at the top of everything including studies as well as extracurricular activities. But she was in class 8th when she lost her sight due to head injury. She was devastated. Her hopes and confidence were shattered. She left her studies and went into despair. During this turmoil she came to know about PFFB, and visited the organization with her parents. At that time, Mrs. Saima Ammar was CEO of the organization. After meeting her, Rabail described: "I got a new light after meeting Saima Aapa, she became my inspiration, and I decided to live my life once again". She restarted her education, and topped in Matriculation exam. She was being interview by GEO TV at this achievement. She did her graduation, and then at the advice of PFFB staff, she got admission in Masters in English there in Multan. She learned computer from PFFB Head office Islamabad as well as PFFB IT centre Multan. After completing her Masters, she applied in various organizations for job, but got negative response due to low acceptance level for Visually Impaired Persons (VIPs) in our society. She worked in Beacon House Multan Branch as Multan’s 1st Blind Audio/Visual Resource Teacher for 2 years. She is also member of Multan Family Lions Club. Rabail also worked as Program Officer of Parliament Watch Project at Center for Peace and Development Initiative CPDI Islamabad. Rabail is also a Member of Multan Family Lion Club International and managing a Project “Zindagi Bhohat Khoobsurat Hai”, in which she motivates different segments of the society and visually impaired persons about positive role of persons with disabilities in the mainstream, training on personality grooming and cooking classes. Rabail Pirzada was presented with many National and International awards on her devoted work for the welfare for the visually impaired persons of the Country. At present, Rabail is part of PFFB and working as Chief Coordinator. 

Salman Khan- Malakand KPK:

Salman from Malakand Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa lost his site nearly eight years ago. The time was turbulent for him with all possible doubts in mind for his life and career. His education process came to a stand-still. A friend introduced him to Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness, and he started utilizing our audio library and IT services. PFFB helped him in his early career development, because it was his bachelors for which he needed those services to continue his education. Now he is on his way to achieve his goals. After doing his masters in 2009 in political science with distinction, he acquired a professional degree in education in 2010.

In the following years he served as lecturer in political science at University of Malakand, and along with that, he earns his M.Phil degree in political science from the University of Peshawar. Currently he is doing his PhD on local Economic Development & Local Governance from UK on full scholarship. His research interests include: Local Economic Development; Decentralization and Local Governance; Informal Governance and Institutions.

Syed Israr Hassan- Khushab, Punjab:

In the ups and downs of life, such moments come when man feels quite hopeless. He feels fully disappointed. He loses his powers to compete. This is against the dignity of man. All the progress the world has made is the result of the determination and spirit that Allah has bestowed upon man. Man should never lose heart. Rather he should face failure in a manly manner. Surely, Allah will bless him with success one day.

I belong to village Rajar that is situated seventeen miles away from Khushab city Khushab is considered in very backward districts of Punjab province and the village in which I took birth is also recessive with reference to basic facilities. . My life had to face such kinds of ups and downs from very first day of my life when I opened my eyes on December 21, 1986. Fifty percent of my eyesight was by birth weak but my parents were not aware of this problem. Doctors said that such kind of problem can increase but cannot be minimized without the special miracle of God Almighty. In spite of all these arguments, I decided to carry on my study and my father fully supported me.

With the help of this low vision, I passed my matriculation examination from the same school in very high marks in 2001 and this was the first ray of hope for my parents and me. I was registered in Government Degree College Jouharabad for completing my F.A and this was the time when I felt my eyesight declining day by day, so I had to struggle very hard to complete intermediate degree. In March of 2005, right before a few days of my B.A exams I had to face a austere incident of life when I felt that my eyes remained no longer able to read and write. This was no doubt a great eve of trial for me and my family but even in this time of trouble I did not withdraw myself from the desire of study.

One day one of my friends who lived in Islamabad met me by chance. I discussed my eye issue with him and he told me about the services of PFFB [Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness]. This was the first introduction of PFFB before me. After some days I along my brother visited the office of PFFB in Islamabad and when I personally observed the functioning and services of this institution, this was again a first ray of hope in my heart. I was immediately registered as the subscriber of PFFB and got all the course of B.A in the form of audiocassettes.

I listened very carefully all the course of B.A on tape recorder which was recorded by PFFB with a high sincerity and appeared as a disable student in 2006. I attempted all my papers with the help of assistant writer. Thus I was able to pass Bachelor Degree with high first division and this was the result of my family prayers and efforts made by PFFB. Thus I again contacted with this institution to get audio course of M.A Political Science who referred me to Khawja Ghulam Muhammad [May his soul rest in heavens] who was a professor in Lahore and recorded various audio courses for blinds students.  He also behaved me with a very sympathetic manner and provided all audio material as soon as possible. This material made me capable to complete master degree in Political Science with very high marks in 2009 from University of Sargodha. The same year I was enrolled in Government College for Elementary Teachers Shahpur with a purpose to achieve B.Ed degree. In April 2009 the retina of my eye detached from its place and I became totally blind. I was operated in General Hospital Lahore and doctors very skillfully attached retina with the eye and after some days my eyesight returned back as it was before retinal detachment problem. On August 02 2009 when I was engaged in exams of B.Ed at Shahpur city, I heared the sudden news of my father’s death. This was most tragic moment of my life as he was the personality who stood shoulder to shoulder with me in every trouble. He was not my father but also my chum. My friends brought me home but the very next day I appeared in second last paper of my class. Regardless of all these issues I passed B.Ed degree in 2010 and M.Ed degree in 2011 from Government College for elementary Teachers Sargodha.

The same year I decided to acquire the degree of M.Phill Political Science but due to very high level and research based degree no audio material was available for this program. The attainment of the task was only possible by seeking computer skills. So I communicated to PFFB office which has special computer lab to train blinds student in computer technology. PFFB IT Center welcomed me and therefore, I went to Islamabad from I was trained about various programs of computer. With great efforts of my computer teacher I was able to operate internet, M.S Office and scanning books on computer after one year. In 2012, I was succeeded in getting admission in M.Phill Political Science through University of Sargodha. This was a great period of struggle but computer technology made this task quite easier for me. I could study books and notes after scanning in the computer. In 2016, I was able to complete this research work and was awarded with M.Phill degree in Political Science.

There is a very famous verse of English poet Shelly that if winter comes, can spring be far behind. I had been applying in Government job for the last five years but every time disqualified from the interview despite the fact that I did not drop any written exam of any job. Right after ten days after completing the degree of M.Phill Political Science, Punjab Public Service Commission issued the final list of selected candidates for the posts of Subjects specialists in grade 17. I had also appeared before interview panel after qualifying written test of this post. I got second position from the whole Punjab and thus I became the first member in all of my relatives who was selected direct in grade 17.

The journey from ignorance to knowledge was not an easy task. Hence, a number of personalities and institutions have played a pivotal role in making this journey comfortable for me. The main personalities who have a key role in my achievements are all my teachers, friends and family members who supported me at any stage and encouraged me at any harsh moment of life. The main institution which has central role in grooming my personality and career is Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness. It provided practical assistance at difficult juncture of my life. It came to help me when I was covered with disappointments and frustrations concerning my life future. Salam to all my benefactors and especially to PFFB who made me a gusseted officer from a most disappointed person.

Mrs. Warda Syed – Peshawar, KPK:

Wardah born in Makkah and lived with her parents for 17 years, she lived a life of a fairytale there and her parents and elder brother were the only friends she ever had. She never went to school because in a foreign country, it is not safe for the girls to study in a distant school. She used to be a private student till Matric. When Wardah was in Matric, she caught up in a disease called Jaundice, which caused eye disease UVEITIS that leads to her left eye blindness.

Wardah did graduation from city district degree college Peshawar. After that she had a major eye surgery that made her eye condition even worst, but she never lose hope. She completed her MBA Banking & Finance on scholarship from Institute of Management Sciences Peshawar. After completing MBA degree, she started searching the job and it was the time when the disease cataract UVEITIS started damaging her right eye also. But she kept focused on her career, but was unable to get any employment opportunity. After great efforts, Wardah got job in Beacon House School System Peshawar as a primary school teacher and an English Coordinator. Teaching is the profession; she always wanted to be in. Fortunes and fates have their own occurrence. It was the fourth month of her job, when she lost her vision, February 18th 2014 and that changed her life. Due to lack of awareness, Wardah was compelled to resign the job, afterwards till 2016, she was isolated at home hopeless from all the dreams she ever had. There was this one friend who told her about PFFB and forwarded her CV. PFFB contact her and introduced her to the Ms. Rabail Pirzada, Program Specialist PFFB, the most wonderful personality, who changed her life for the better. In May 2016, Ms. Rabail welcomed her to join PFFB and she learned the new living. Wardah was so scared and nervous, when she came to Islamabad for the first time, travelling alone in Daewoo was nothing less than an adventure. Ms. Rabail taught her the entire life style of a visually impaired in three days, hence Wardah walked back to her city independently. The girl who was totally and completely depending on her family was now moving around independently, accepting the fact of blindness. PFFB also helped her in career life. Ms. Wardah also worked as Relationship Officer at Faysal Bank Islamabad. Now she is living happily married life.

Attiq-ur-Rehman - Gujjar Khan, Punjab:

Attiq ur Rehman born in Gujjar Khan with good health. He completed his early education from his city and took admission in intermediate at Government College for Boys Doltaala. He used to play badminton after studies. One day while playing badminton, he noticed that he cannot able to focus the shuttlecock and got blurry vision from his right eye. Family went to private doctor and he gave Attiq multivitamins tablets. After no improvement in vision, Attiq family took him Eye hospitals in Rawalpindi for better examination. Ophthalmologist diagnosed Attiq Retinistis Pigmentosa at the age of eighteen. After knowing RP is not curable at this moment, Attiq lost his hopes. He went to depression due to negative emotions related to studies and his career.

Attiq came to know about PFFB in 1996 and met with Mrs. Saima Ammar. She motivated and helped him to understand the disability needs. She also encouraged Attiq about continuing his education. He continued his intermediate again after the gap of 2 years. Attiq visited PFFB regularly for audio books and also started to meet other visually impaired persons and visited Special Education Institutions for building contacts.

After completing his intermediate in 1st division with the help of recorded books of PFFB Audio World Program, Attiq didn’t look back on his past miseries. He graduated and got admission in Punjab University Lahore for Masters in Sociology. During that period, Attiq continuously visited PFFB IT Lab Islamabad and improved his outdated computing skills. He also benefitted through the Books Scanning service of PFFB IT Center and installation of Mobile screen reading software.

Attiq applied for many jobs after his Masters degree and appeared in seven interviews. He didn’t succeed to get any opportunity. PFFB team supported Attiq-ur-Rehman in career counseling and motivated him to continue his struggle for employment.

Few months ago, Attiq was selected as Grade 17 Officer and serving at Population Welfare Department, Ministry of Population Rawalpindi. His message to all “Education, empowerment and hard work always leads to success. No one is perfect except Allah Subhan-o-Taala, we all have shortcomings. We can overcome it by improving our abilities.

Maira Arif – Gujrat, Punjab:

I am Maira Arif from Gujarat, currently am living in Islamabad.  My father is a retired officer of Air force. I and my two siblings are suffering from R.P disease.  We were quiet young when our problem was revealed to our parents. They instead of getting worried and losing hope about our future decided to educate us. While everyone was wondering how  he ( my father) would be  able to educate his not only one but three blind children, my father decided to leave the village, as there was no special school available , and migrated to Islamabad. Here he started to find a special school for us to make his dream come true. One day he found Al-Maktoom Special Education Center for Visually Handicapped Children (VHC), where I along with my other siblings got admission. The school was full of facilities such as trained teachers, Braille books, Braille frames, transport etc. it was because of these facilities that I successfully  did my matric with 1st division. When I was done with matric I decided to take admission in college. I visited two to three colleges but no one was ready to give me admission just because of my security reason. Somehow me and my father convinced the principle of  IMCG F/10-2 and finally I got admission there but the college was having  no facilities for special  persons and I faced many problems regarding studies. At that time PFFB was my last hope, when I approached them they didn’t disappoint me and provided me with the audio course books. With the help of these books, my parents and siblings I was able to pass my bachelor with 1st division (Alhamdulillah).  After that I got admission in Quaid-e-Azam University, there I used my laptop for completion of different tasks like preparation of assignments, presentations, reading books and giving exams etc. and  once again I cleared  my degree with 1st division. After completing masters I started searching a job.  I visited PFFB and met team Madam Rabail and Sir Tahir Ali. There I got trainings of personality grooming, mobility and vocational work. PFFB started a program by the name of PFFB Club in which they gave trainings to visually impaired persons regarding how to tackle daily life challenges and taught them skills to earn livelihood. I got 2 months training over there, and started working as a master trainer. At the same time, I was making efforts for a job. My efforts were successful and I got a teaching job in a private school. It was a sighted school and I was only visually impaired teacher over there. But I worked like a sighted person and undertook all the responsibilities with great courage. After some time I was selected in national internship program initiated by the prime minister and now I am working in Air University as a research assistant.

Yasir Saleem- Mardan, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa

Yasir Saleem lost his sight due to RP Disease at very young age. He is resident of Mardan. Despite of deteriorating vision, he continued his studies in general school system from primary till University. After accomplishing his Masters in Social Work from University of Peshawar, he did immense struggle and established Accessibility Centre for Visually Impaired students in University of Peshawar and conducted awareness programs there. While he was studying he constantly kept in touch with PFFB to obtain benefit from pleasure listening section, and IT Center Islamabad gave him constant support in terms of audio tutorials, software assistance career counseling and book scanning service. This beneficiary of PFFB became an employee of the same organization one year back, when PFFB established computer lab in Government Institute for Blind, Nishtarabad, Peshawar with collaboration of PPAF. After competing in interview process, he was selected as an instructor to train and motivate other visually challenged people in respective area. Yasir also provided his valuable input as Master Trainer/ Resource Person in Training Workshops organized by PFFB on Mobility, Computer applications, Communication Skills, deal social behaviors related to Disability. Presently, Yasir Saleem is doing his own business in Mansehra, KPK.

Maria Zia- Islamabad:

Ms. Maria Zia started losing her eye sight due to Retinitis Pigmentosia in early age. With her weak eye sight, she studied in normal institution till matriculation, but turned completely blind after matric. While she was searching light of hope, she came to know about Mrs. Saima Ammar (laid CEO of PFFB), and came to see her. She says: "it was remarkable to see her, I felt as a sudden light has been poured in my heart by an unknown force". After getting herself enlightened from here, she started her journey again.  She got admission in FG-College for Girls F-7 Islamabad, did her intermediate with the help of PFFB Audio World recorded books, and cleared her exams of intermediate with good marks. After that, she wanted to opt for something different and challenging. She kept on getting her determination from Saima Ammar (late) and other staff members, and decided to take admission in MASCOM in International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI). Initially when she applied for admission, she was being rejected by the university, since they were under the impression that a visually challenged girl won't be able to excel in field of media. After many assurances of her capabilities from Mrs. Saima Ammara, she was granted permission to attend MASCOM course in IIUI. During her studies, she proved that if internal vision is clear, loss of sight doesn't matter at all. She got her degree with distinction. Later on, she started working with Sight Savor's international, and still working there as admin assistant. Her attitude and interest in computer field motivated her to get expertise in computer and she constantly kept coming to our IT centre Islamabad. She was also selected in youth exchange program by United Exchange Foundation Program USEFP and went to USA back in 2013. Her determination and will power is enlightening many lives around her, and this flower of PFFB is blossoming every day. Presently, Maria is active invloved in the community work as an Enterprenuer. 

Muhammad Azam Hussain- Azad Jammu Kashmir:

Muhammad Azam was born in Village near Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir. Like many Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) patient, his vision loss started at the age of thirteen, since he was from remote area of AJK, so no special education school was existing in the area at that time. Despite of many difficulties, Azam continued his education in mainstream system till intermediate. Due to lack of facilities he couldn't continue his education after secondary level, and came to Islamabad to search for better opportunities. Here he came to know about PFFB, and joined PFFB IT Center Islamabad for computer training. Meanwhile he continued his preparation to accomplish his graduation from Punjab University through Audio World’s recorded books. Azam competed in the interview for the post in PFFB IT Center Islamabad and was selected as Computer Instructor. Now he is imparting all those latest computing skills, he obtained from the same organization to other visually challenged persons as well.

Darakhshan Raza- Karachi, Sindh:

Ms. Darakhshan Raza is resident of Karachi, Pakistan. She is partially blind since birth. She studied in mainstream education throughout her educational career by audio books of PFFB Audio World program. After completing her masters in special education from Karachi, she was being train by PFFB staff in computer skills. Currently she is teaching in Government National Education Complex Gulistan-e-Johar Karachi. In order to teach her students affectively, she keeps on getting help from PFFB staff. Her interest in computer is motivating her to obtain benefit from our newly established lab in collaboration with PPAF in Karachi. Darakhshan is trying her best to be an affective member of the community, and both PFFB and PPAF are playing their roles jointly to make her efforts successful.