Vocal for Local: Social Welfare
We Rise By Lifting Others
Kashmir Images started an initiative, as part of India’sVocal for Local campaign, of collecting inspirational stories from across Jammu and Kashmir, bringing to the readers fresh perspectives about solo entrepreneurship – successful only when practiced with persistence and conformed with patience.
Adeela Hameed, as the ground reporter and interviewer with Kashmir Images for this project, converses withMs. Tasleema Shah of Al-Habib FoundationStarted in 2009, the organization works with specially challenged children and under privileged women. It provides special education,vocational training, physiotherapy and occupational therapy to specially challenged children to enable them to become self reliant and part of the mainstream society.For women,this social welfare group has special skill training programs like cutting& tailoring, hand embroidery, etc. This is done to help them earn and become financially independent.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
All organizations rely upon a motto, an aim. What objective does your social group stand for?
Our motto is:
“When everyone else says you can’t, determination says,yes you can.”
I always tell children that you don’t have a dis-ability, you have a different-ability. Officially you may be disabled but you are truly enabled.
“Raise your thoughts high and reach for the sky” is our slogan for them.
Our objective is to train specially challenged children and underprivileged women−help them stand on their feet and become financially independent. We encourage weaker sections of the society to become strong and overcome hurdles in life with hope and positivity. Once you choose hope, anything’s possible in this world.
How did you decide on starting an NGO to help women and children?
Right from childhood, I was inclined towards helping the needy. I realized my Bachelors in Social Work (BSW) as I wanted a career in this field. My only mission in life is to work for the betterment of our society and I have fully devoted my life towardssocial welfare activities.
How do you identify those who need help? How do people reach out to you?
We regularly conduct door-to-door surveys in many areas, organize awareness camps and seminars. We announce and advertise through social and print media, or radio broadcasts and also word of mouth. We work hard to inform about our activities so that people who need help can approach us with ease.
You must have faced quite a few obstacles going head-on in this sector. What helped you through?
Yes, it has been an extremely difficult journey, full of challenges. At times, I feltI couldn’t move forward anymore. But then I gather my inner strength, rise up and start my work again. I believe in being strong and facing obstacles bravely. People do offer advice but ultimately you have to help your own self.
What role did your family and/or associates play throughout this journey?
Unfortunately, my family was unsupportive. They never quite understood or appreciated my dedication towards this work. However, graduallyafter many years, they did develop some understanding.
What, as a social welfare person,is your advice to women who face domestic abuse?
I have been a victim of domestic abuse myself, so I can relate to women who go through this torture. Unfortunately in our society, family of the woman or her in-laws never support the victim. She is usually advised to forgive and forget for the sake of kids or saving her marriage. They never take action or let the victim take action against the abuser. This encourages the abuser to commit more atrocities.
“The one who bears injustice silently is more at fault than the one who commits injustice.”
Therefore my advice to women is, SAY NO TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Raise your voice when you get hit with the first slap. Don’t allow anyone to abuse you.
We make women aware of their legal rights and help them get justice. Not just victims of domestic abuse, we also help victims of sexual violence. Women are no longer the weaker gender. They are equally strong.
You must have some inspirational personal targets being an integral part of Al-Habib Foundation for such a long time. What do you aim to work for in the future?
It is my dream to build a shelter home for the homeless and destitute women so that they can live a life of dignity. Also, I want to introduce specialized computer therapy software for people with multiple disabilities, autism, cerebral palsy and hearing impairment. I want to educate them on the powers of internet to help them design innovative teaching materials, specialized computer software, computer projects, and many more similar programs.
We need support in every manner from like-minded people and philanthropists as well as the government. We lack financial aid because of which we often fall short of achieving our goals. Only with sufficient fundscan such important tasks be accomplished.
This intention to empower physically challenged people, by giving them rehabilitation, specialized and technical education and vocational training to make them contributing and honourable citizens, is my driving force. I request people, everyone from our society, to contribute to a cause − be it on an individual level or in collaboration with others.
As Robert G. Ingersoll rightly said,
‘We rise by lifting others’