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A hundred forgotten souls

Updated 19 May, 2015 09:13pm

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.

Joining lego.
Joining lego.
A child is helped down the stairs by his teacher.
A child is helped down the stairs by his teacher.
A boy peers over a textbook.
A boy peers over a textbook.
Laughter during class: A student with Cerebral Palsy.
Laughter during class: A student with Cerebral Palsy.
A child with Attention Deficit Disorder uses toys to help him learn.
A child with Attention Deficit Disorder uses toys to help him learn.
Learning to write.
Learning to write.
A group of kids take some time out.
A group of kids take some time out.
A physiotherapy session.
A physiotherapy session.
Writing in braille.
Writing in braille.
A child shows off his classwork.
A child shows off his classwork.
Posing for the camera.
Posing for the camera.
Walking support in the physio room.
Walking support in the physio room.
Disabled body, able mind.
Disabled body, able mind.
Glancing through the doorway during class.
Glancing through the doorway during class.
Alternative forms of learning.
Alternative forms of learning.
A child with Down Syndrome separates himself from the other children to enjoy his lollipop.
A child with Down Syndrome separates himself from the other children to enjoy his lollipop.

—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.