Belated Salgirah Mubarak to all the Ismaili community members around the world! Many will celebrate the Aga Khan’s work, which Ismailies call their Hazir Imam. While GB Goodwill Movement does an interfaith community-based job within the Gilgit Baltistan region: if one were to talk of successful projects in GB, one would need to mention the Aga Khan’s Work within the area, from schools to local hospitals within GB. AKDN’s works play a significant part in the lives of the citizens of Gilgit Baltistan, specifically Hunzais. Nevertheless, as organizations, what are the lessons that can be taken from AKDN?
Embracing Diversity and Inclusiveness
One of His Highness’ quotes is, ‘ We can not make the world safe for democracy until we also make the world safe for diversity. ‘ At Goodwill, we are just advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities. Period. We do not expect to have special rights: but the inalienable rights are given to each man and woman (quoted from the US Constitution, 1789). PWDs should be able to work and contribute to society regardless of gender, religion, or sexuality.
Moral Panic – Not needed
A moral panic is a situation where the media hypes a scenario, and citizens assume that the media shows the truth, and that is it. We know in the case of Pakistan, specifically on the issues, Persons with Disablities are shown to be the lowest of the lowest class, where this is no intellect and PWDs are poor. In the Gilgit Baltistan context, many individuals, including those featured here on the Stories of the Resilient https://gbgoodwillmovement.com/blog/, have achieved masters and degrees but are not employed due to a lack of awareness in society, and due to this so-called Moral Panic.
Another example would be that of Gilgit Baltistan Disabled Scholar Fazal Amin Beg, who, despite his disability, has the intellect but could not go on to further education https://fazalamin.com/biography/ due to societal pressures around PWDs in Pakistanhttps://pamirtimes.net/2019/01/02/renowned-researcher-fazal-amin-baig-launches-website-to-make-his-work-available-online/.
Calling for support for Persons with Disablities
Like AKDN, local disabled organizations need the support of people. In another quote by His Highness, he said, ‘We must explore every opportunity to have different faiths come together in addressing the problems of our respective societies.’ Societies must come together to solve issues for Persons with Disablities. No matter whether you live in Karachi, London, or Sydney, the individual has a responsibility towards all communities and societies.