Interview with the.Ismaili UK

Interview with the.Ismaili UK

The Gilgit-Baltistan’s Goodwill Movement GB GWM is an organization working on community and skills-based development for persons with disabilities in Gilgit-Baltistan.

This recently registered organization is being run by persons with disabilities, primarily students keen to showcase their work on a national, regional, and international stage. Today, we are joined by Ghulam Muhammad Baig, CEO of GB GWM, Farhan Baig, President, and Abrar Ahmed, General Secretary.

What is your organization about, where did you get the motivation for this, and what are your targets for the future?

GM Baig: Well, first of all, let me say that this idea was highly inspired by His Highness the Aga Khan’s speech in Aiglemont in 2017, where poverty alleviation was mentioned. His Highness’ work in all areas, whether through Aga Khan University hospitals or Diamond Jubilee schools, is a game-changer for Northern Areas and Hunza. Still, the most significant thing I think we need to realize is that poverty has been reduced.  If you think of Hunza, it was just a village, but with Mawla’s blessing, it has the potential to become an economic hub. When you have a leader changing so many lives, as an individual, you feel responsible towards your family or communities in whatever capacity you can deliver. I think this is the drive we all share in GB GWM, and we want to work on community development over the next few years. 

Briefly, our objectives are :

  1.  To raise public awareness of the disabled communities’ plight in Gilgit, provide aid and support to the disabled/differently-abled community and give them a voice in Gilgit Baltistan. 
  2. To establish a platform for the volunteering youth of Gilgit Baltistan to speak about and work for the differently-abled community.
  3. To improve the social life of disabled residents in Gilgit through various projects.
  4. To promote our ideas and ideals about disability inclusion that we have for Gilgit Baltistan to the public.
  5. To mobilize the public to urge the concerned authorities to address disability inclusion within Gilgit and work to uplift the educational and employability status of disabled persons.

Our current project is the Goodwill Skills Development Centre, wherein teams in GB GWM teach disabled people the skills needed for future employment or further education, like IT, English, Music, Tailoring, and Mobile Repairing.

Could you share more about the projects?

Farhan: First, let me briefly state the projects we have been involved in since 2021 and then focus on the skills development center, as Ghulam mentioned earlier. Since 2021, we have been doing short-term projects such as supporting a little girl in Ghizer with food and medicine costs, supporting the disabled community in Ghizer, Hunza, and Nagar, and hosting and organizing meetings with the disabled communities plus webinars.

But we found that there is still pending work, even if we donate £1000 to individuals or a community. I do not want to comment on the political side, but an economy is affected by political circumstances. Regardless, GB GWM thought, why not invest in persons with disabilities so that they can earn a living themselves. Due to COVID-19, I believe everything has rapidly moved online.  People can make from home with the help of websites like Fiver and Upwork. However, there are many challenges that we need to address before we need think of this, which is in the long term.

What challenges do you need to overcome to make this happen, and do you still face difficulties?

Abrar: I think Farhan and Ghulam might want to leave things on a positive note, but yes, there is. I know that we have tried to collaborate with various Jamati Boards and Institutions to no avail, but we will continue in our endeavors and hope to begin a collaborative effort shortly.

To briefly outline the issues we internally face regarding the center, we:

GM Baig/Farhan: Yeah, we agree;  we are very thankful and appreciate His Highness’ vision.   However, we also have a number of Jamati donors who have supported our mission and our cause. Without contributions from these Jamati members, we would not have been able to make the progress we have.

How can Jamat contact you for more information?

Ghulam: I would suggest anyone to visit our website: https://gbgoodwillmovement.com

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