Inspirational journey of wonderful Saira Qadir, CEO of SAIRA TRUST sharing her story with mahnur.s.stories.


Q.1. What is your definition of life? Share your story with us
My definition of life is to accept oneself happily and to be accepted by the society as we are, whether normal or disabled, and to keep striving for greater and greater success on the right track. Life is what you have and not what you do not have.
I was born in Peshawar and struck with polio at age one causing paralysis of both legs. Braces and callipers did not help.

So, I learnt the use of three wheel tri-cycle and entered school using this “transport” for movement from one classroom to another. My life changed when I became a patient of Dr. Farhat Rahman, a really professional Physiotherapist. On my father’s suggestion and assistance she left her job in Mission Hospital and set up an institution for rehabilitation of physically disabled in 1985. With my father’s general administration as elected President of the Association for Rehabilitation of Physically Disabled (ARPD) and Dr. Farhat’s professional commitment, the institution grew into an internationally recognised

set-up working for Rehabilitation of the physically disabled with such facilities as physio treatment an orthotic/prosthetic workshop, inclusive schooling (education for all, abled and disabled with necessary facilities for disabled) and vocational skills. I joined the administration of the set-up in 2001 after my Masters in International Relations. I established a POWER (Promotion of Women Empowerment and Rehabilitation) Group designed to help disabled girls earn their livelihood by learning such skills as tailoring, embroidery, beautician, candle making, pot painting and sketching, basic computer operations, etc. With our outreach programme and awareness campaigns in different cities, towns and rural areas across the country, we were able to help a large number of poor and helpless disabled persons with mobility facilities such as wheelchairs, crutches, walking frames, artificial lower limbs, calipers, etc. In the process, we were able to establish about 90 rehabilitation centres throughout the country including FATA and Azad Kashmir. I was awarded the coveted Fatima Jinnah Medal by the President of Pakistan in 2006 for my humble services for the disabled.
My goal is to build a vast network of rehab centres through out the country to provide necessary facilities to the disabled at their doorstep.  I keep meeting legislators and concerned authorities for requisite legislation and necessary facilities for accessibility of the disabled in public places and buildings specially of schools, colleges, universities, hostels and entertainment places etc. I want to reach the disabled in rural areas to end their confinement and make them mobile and active with necessary supports.
My dreams are rooted in the way my parents brought me up and how Dr. Farhat inspired me. She died in 2005. I want to be missed as vastly and internationally as she was when I depart.

Q.2. Who is your biggest motivation?

My biggest motivations are four persons:
-Stephen Hawking—A Space Scientist who can move only his eyes no other body
-Hellen Keller—who could not see, hear or speak but she got Master Degree
-Nick Vujicic—A man without limbs who grew up to be a motivational speaker and an athlete; a successful, happy married man with two sons
-Muneeba Mazari—An artist, a singer and a lively model full of life
And there are many others who have proved that when one is determined to achieve something, nothing can stop.

Q3.What element inspired you to work for humanity?
My limited access to places, activities and hurdles everywhere made me think about people like me and to work for all like them. I’ve inherited my zeal from my parents, my siblings and from Dr. Farhat Rahman (Late), who was also a great philanthropist

Q.4. Tell us about your Trust?
SAIRA (Socially Addressed Institution for Rehabilitation Assistance) Welfare Trust was established in Rawalpindi in July 2013 as a non-profit organization for rehabilitation of the physically disabled. The welfare is envisaged in the whole of Pakistan under Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Programme without discrimination on the basis of religion, sect, politics, race and gender.

Q.5. What kind of help you need for your trust?
My goals are many but my first priorities are: to open a low cost orthopedic workshop for making orthosis (callipers, corset, walking frames etc.) and prosthesis (artificial limbs) for poor and the needy persons with disabilities and a group of young, motivated, devoted and dedicated persons who help me in my campaigns for creating awareness among people about the problems and needs of disabled

Q.6. In your social work (all about your trust) Who turned into your support system?
No-one, came over voluntarily and without material benefit.

Q.7. How do you frame disability?
Know me for my abilities not my disabilities. I’m differently able and not DIS-abled

Q.8. As a citizen of Pakistan what do you think where we are lacking?
Well, there is a lot to say about it. Pakistan is one of the most disabled un-friendly countries.  We have Laws about facilities for the disabled but these laws are not implemented. We have no ramps, accessible buss, cars, trains or elevators in most of the public places. No training institutions for handling and managing disabilities or persons with disabilities. There are no facilities for higher education, sign language interpretations; no easily available braille machines for visually impaired persons.
Despite the fact that a huge part of the population (about 10%) is disabled, rulers are generally indifferent to their problems and needs. Most physically disabled live in rural areas and are confined to their homes because of lack of necessary facilities. They are deprived of education and those who are educated, find no jobs. There is an urgent need to create awareness among the people about needs of the disabled. Even educated people lack such awareness. I strongly feel that the only disability in life is indifferent attitude.

Q.9. A message to all the young disabled people who have passion to do something?
Follow your dream and overcome every hurdle which that comes in your onward voyage to success. Be resilient and never give up on your goals. Don’t let your physical weakness or disability to overcome your strength and abilities.

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