KARACHI: Muhammad Faizan Paracha, a dwarf, had not thought that one thesis research project will change the course of his life.
He set up a small tuck shop, called 'Crunchy Munchy', under the building of the social work department at Karachi University on Friday. The idea of setting up these canteens that are handled and run by dwarves came up when Centre of Excellence for Women director Dr Nasreen Aslam Shah suggested one of her students to research on little people to find out the problems they face in daily life.
"As soon as the research started, we found out that dwarves [face] more or less [the] same issues [that the] transgender [community] faces in the country," said Shah, explaining how the little people find it difficult to pursue education, get jobs or partners. She added that they even face difficulty while getting on public transportation.
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Having realised their plight, Shah decided to help them after she met some members of the community who are registered with the social welfare department with the name, Little Peoples of Pakistan (LPP). LPP head Kamram Ahmed Khan came up with the idea of letting dwarves handle small tuck shops in different departments of the varsity.
The first tuck shop under the initiative was set up inside the women studies department in October. The second tuck shop was inaugurated by the dean of management and administrative sciences, Prof Dr Khalid Iraqi, who also announced his support for opening the third canteen somewhere near the arts lobby.
Shah, along with students and faculty members, pooled in Rs4,000 as a gift for Paracha so that he can start set up a tuck shop with the money and later sustain the business through what he earns.
Paracha, who was working with Transfigure Auto Engineering Services Company as a packaging boy, left his job due to some of the common issues that little people face in daily life. "The work was not permanent in the company and no one respects us," he lamented as he spoke to The Express Tribune while selling things at the newly inaugurated tuck shop.
He also wants to contribute in the earnings of his house. He lives in Liaquatabad with his four brothers and two sisters.
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Khan explained that handling a tuck shop in the university is better than begging on the roads. "No one gives us job while getting education is also a big challenge for us," he said. "We have requested the government of Sindh to strictly follow the job quota, which is 5% for the disabled, as we fall in that category. He criticised the government that has not even taken the idea of introducing an additional step in public transport to enable dwarves to get onto the vehicle.
Meanwhile, Adil Jamal, who is also a dwarf running the tuck shop in the women studies department since October, said that he was overwhelmed by the response of students who buy things from him just to help him. He added that they do not taunt him or make fun of his height like people normally do in the city.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2017.