Pakistanis need to see the human face of disability to work towards removing the stigmas and misconceptions around it.
Children with special needs and disabilities are one of the most marginalised segments of Pakistani society. They are the unseen, the unrecognized and the forgotten.
Public attitudes are often uncaring or misplaced and informed by stigma and widely held myths. For many families, the difficulties involved in dealing with other people’s reactions means that they are loath to expose their children to the public gaze.
Compounding the issue is a lack of facilities for disabled children, particularly in education. In Pakistan, an estimated 1.4 million kids are deprived of any form of schooling simply because they have no access to it, increasing their disenfranchisement.
However, there are institutions out there seeking to bridge the gap, and harness the potential of children with unique abilities.
This photo essay is the result of two days I spent at one such academy.
The aim is to raise awareness of special needs issues among children, show the human face of disability and work towards removing the stigmas and misconceptions around it.
—Permission was sought from parents of children and the institution for photos taken by the author .
Usman Ahmad is a British freelance writer based in Pakistan. He writes mainly on issues of human rights and minorities.
He tweets @usmanahmad_iam.