ISLAMABAD -- The Disabled Inclusive Association (DIA), a newly founded aid group in Islamabad that also operates in Rawalpindi and other nearby areas, is planning to expand its work helping people with severe disabilities.
"We are providing wheelchairs, food items, books and uniforms to the members of the association with the aim of making them active and productive members of society," Ayesha Rehman, the 25-year-old founder and president of the non-profit organisation, told Pakistan Forward.
"We also support some DIA members who [are seeking] skilled training to enable them to earn their livelihoods and become productive members of their families," she said.
Rehman, who suffers from incurable muscular dystrophy, became wheelchair-bound at the age of 14 in 2007.
"But I did not lose heart," she said.
Rehman went on to earn a bachelor's degree in 2014 and is working towards a bachelor's in library sciences at the Allama Iqbal Open University in Islamabad.
"If you want to serve humanity, [having a] disability cannot be an excuse in the way of your noble mission -- and I have proved it," she said.
"A few months ago, we formally established the DIA as a non-profit, non-governmental organisation so that we could seek donations from large Pakistani and international organisations to aid the growing number of disabled persons -- mostly women and children," Rehman said.
About 300 disabled persons belong to the association now, she said. However, many disabled Pakistanis live in militancy-affected Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the association cannot reach them for lack of funds.
"At present, we don't have enough resources to reach out to the needy living outside Islamabad and Rawalpindi," she said, adding that the goal is to reach inhabitants of other cities by the end of 2018.
With Ramadan set to begin next month, the association is trying to raise donations to provide food to members, she added.
"More than 25% of Pakistanis live below the poverty line," said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, president of the Nazaria-i-Pakistan Trust Forum in Islamabad. "They deserve support from the government and society to fulfill their basic needs."
He called on the government and philanthropists to back the DIA's efforts to help the disabled, which he considers one of the noblest causes.
Businesses in the country should donate a specific percentage of their yearly profits to social welfare, he said.
All companies registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan are already required to spend a minimum of 5% of their profits on the welfare of society or of their employees.
Some companies spend up to 10% of their profits on promoting education, health and a clean environment in Pakistan, Mughal said, adding that business leaders should emulate this practice to promote the well-being of the needy.