Differently-abled man braves uncertainty

Cobbler acquired shop from partner who returned to his village last year

Rizwan Anwar June 15, 2020
Differently-abled man braves uncertainty

LAHORE: Defiance and perseverance often define the success of the differently-abled, who, despite all odds faced by them, thrive to improve their own situation and become equally productive members of society.

In the provincial capital, Muhammad Hussain, a differently-abled man, refuses to accept money offered by a woman who mistook him for a beggar. Hussain, who crawls on the ground for his mobility, said that he is a labourer, who works as a cobbler. “I like to work hard, not to beg for money from people.”WhatsApp Image 2020-06-13 at 7.56.36 PM

In an interview with The Express Tribune, Hussain shared his story, stating that at the age of 15, he had a fever, fell seriously ill and reached the point where he was unable to walk again. Now, he crawls on the ground with the help of his hands.

During childhood, Hussain’s thigh muscles had weakened. The disability happened due to a medical condition known as GB syndrome. It is a disease in which the affected person is paralyzed and loses the ability to walk because of muscle weakness.WhatsApp Image 2020-06-13 at 7.55.40 PM

Muscular dystrophy runs in the family and has also affected Hussain’s brother. He said one of his two brothers is also differently-abled.

Hussain highlighted that he is married and has a six-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter. “My wife also has medical problems in her legs. I work with a friend who is a cobbler in repairing shoes.”

He revealed, "Last year, I was distressed as my friend was leaving this job and going back to his village.”

He elaborated that he earned just Rs4,000 a month to cover his basic living expenses. “After my friend, all the equipment for repairing shoes and the shop was mine to sustain my livelihood.”

At Hussain’s residence, the wooden door was found cracked, with a torn curtain behind it. His mother appeared to be suffering from mental problems and was leaning against a wall.WhatsApp Image 2020-06-13 at 7.56.36 PM (2)

The matter of the shop was resolved and it was handed over to Hussain as its new owner. This brought a brief period of relief for Hussain and his family, but 14 months later, he says the ongoing coronavirus and lockdown situation had disrupted his livelihood as his shop had been closed.

He is again struggling to put food on the table for himself and his family.

Speaking to The Express Tribune at Saddar Roundabout, North Cantonment, he disclosed that he also had experience in making tea. “If I can arrange the equipment and a rental shop, I would be able to start a new business. I want people to acknowledge my ability to sustain a livelihood, when given an opportunity.”

Hussain has spent his life repairing and polishing people's broken footwear, but he is now worried about the future of his children. “I want them to obtain good education and get a chance to move up the ladder in the society.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2020.


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