Nov 15 - 28, 2004





SAFIA ABBASI is currently working as vice principal in a unique institution Karachi Vocational Training Center (KVTC). She is dedicated for training and education to the mentally retarded children at KVTC, in fact she is heading a team which remove 'dis' from disable children and hidden qualities are identified and polished after which children are able to join the society of 'capable' persons. Safia Abbasi is also coach in an institution under the title of Special Olympics dedicated for sports activities of special children. She was born in Karachi and graduated from PECHS Girls College in 1971, only a year later, she married to a businessman and became mother of three children. She had no problem during her 12 year married life but entire world was changed for her when her spouse died in 1983 in Manora Island where he had gone for a picnic. He slipped and fell from a hill while fishing. This was not end, only few time after his tragic death she came to know that out of three her two children were disable and the elder son was not as bright as his father. She took responsibilities of the 'father' apart from her natural responsibilities as a mother. In the first step, she opened a tuition center in her Sindh Muslim Cooperative Society house but later Safia felt that she had to do more than this.

PAGE: What were the reasons that you join an institution for the training and coaching of mentally retarded children?

SAFIA ABBASI: when I noticed that my daughter and a son were not normal kids and I had to pay more attention to them and started sending them in an institution for education and care. But only within few weeks a question kept spinning my brain; that, can someone else give true love to my children and take care the way they needed? And that did not take long for the decision that I had to join the institution where my children were being taken care. Along with my own children, I started loving other children too, that were natural sentiments came out from me. Many more children came closer to me and the journey started.

PAGE: Well, that was the start of your noble journey, what after that?

SAFIA ABBASI: In 1991, I joined the KVTC when it was being founded by a lady Mrs. Rubina Inam in whom I found a nature like an angel. So I have privilege to be a founder member of the KVTC. I joined here as a teacher, and now I am vice principal of this organization. I have devoted my life to the handicap children whether they are mine or others it does not make any difference for me.

PAGE: You have spent an important part of your life with the handicapped children. Are you satisfied with the available facilities in our society for the handicapped children?

SAFIA ABBASI: Absolutely not. I would like to say that this is an indicator and a true reflection of the civilization of our nation that this noble job is being done in our society on donations and individual people whom All Mighty Allah has given a sense and they have devoted their lives for the handicapped children.



PAGE: Would you please tell us more about this, and your valuable ideas?

SAFIA ABBASI: Look, there are countless professions and jobs in our society and in the world for everyone, so if someone decides to join such a noble job for devoting his or her love and patience for the special children they need to be respected, recognized, and paid accordingly?. If I had not joined this job than someone else would have been giving his or her love and patience to my children, how he or she should be treated and paid by me. I think if someone devotes his or her love to my children I can not or no one can pay the price for this. Like here in KVTC a team of dedicated people are taking care and educating hundreds of special children, in fact they have taken the responsibilities of the mothers and fathers. They are giving their precious love to the children. And 'patience' towards special children is on top of that. Our society needs more respect than any other noble professions including, school teachers, doctors, religious leaders.

PAGE: What else should be done in this field?

SAFIA ABBASI: At present, hardly one percent children out of total population are identified and diagnosed about their physical and mental deficiencies whereas others are many cases going undiagnosed and even unnoticed. We need a nationwide network of diagnosing and examining every child frequently. This should be a part of our Education Ministry so that each and every child could go through a basic check up because this is the matter of entire life of an individual. Secondly, we should have a nationwide network to train the coach and teachers. Third, each and every city should have a center like KVTC where mentally retarded children should be kept. In order to have more and more dedicated people especially young people in this noble field we badly need to give them extra-ordinary status, respect and pay. This is the only step which can attract the intelligent people to join this field otherwise, apart from exceptional once why should somebody select this field.