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July 19, 2013 | Asia Pacific: Pakistan

The Freedom to Play, to Learn, to Smile

By Kate McKenna

Waheed and Zia are getting outside more and learning to play ball after Special Olympics volunteers paid their family an encouraging visit.

In some parts of Pakistan, children with intellectual disabilities are not valued as they should be valued.

For one family, this led them to feel ashamed of their sons with intellectual disabilities. The parents also did not know how to keep the boys safe when they went to work.

They kept them chained – chained literally and many other ways -- at home so the children would not be seen and mistreated. The two brothers stayed chained at home, even as they grew into young men. This went on for 10 years.

Some Special Olympics volunteers heard about this situation and paid the family a visit. The Special Olympics volunteers were able to talk to the family and encourage them. Since then, Special Olympics volunteers have been urging the parents to bring these young men – now ages 19 and 22 -- out into the world. One volunteer says, “We have been trying to bring some positivity to the young men’s lives by providing them with sports items and other things to help keep them busy."


The parents have been inspired to get more involved in determining their children’s future. They recently traveled two days to attend a Special Olympics family summit in Karachi, where they met other families who have experienced the same kinds of struggles with finding acceptance and activities for their children. The parents are also feeling reassured about their sons’ skills and abilities. As one volunteer puts it, “This is what life is all about:  to share joy and happiness.”

 

 

About Kate McKenna: Director, Editorial and Multimedia
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