SWAT: When it comes to pursuing goals, Rawaisa, 18, does not let disability hold her back. She was affected by polio at the tender age of seven years after being deprived of vaccination. Currently, she owns a local cloth business in Swat.
Her window of opportunity came when she was selected under Livelihood Enhancement and Protection Programme initiated by Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund and Sarhad Rural Support Programme recently. For starters, she was granted Rs30,000 to kick-start the business. “In the very first week, I sold cloth of Rs15,000 on a profit of Rs4,000. My business is still growing and it will enable me to support myself and lend a helping hand to my family,” she told The Express Tribune.
However, she regrets not being able to get an education. “I always wanted to go to school and play like other children but my disability was a major stumbling block,” she said.
Living in a conservative society where most people blindly followed pre-conceived notions aggravated her problems. “As if being disabled was not enough, people would often express pity and consider me a burden,” she said. Her mother died when she was young and her father remarried. “My stepmother hated me and constantly reminded me of my inability to perform household chores,” she recalled
“I wanted to help my father support our family of 12 and I can finally do that,” she said. Her father is a daily-wage labourer and could not afford to take her to a hospital when she was diagnosed with the disease. Later, doctors confirmed that she was not given proper vaccination.
According to doctors, her illness is curable and requires undergoing different surgeries. Through her business, she intends to not only assist her father but also pay for her surgeries so she is able to walk like “normal people”. Moreover, she urged all parents to vaccinate their children against polio so as to save them from disability and “an unending torment” before it’s too late.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2012.