Zobia School for Special Children Mirpur Azad Kashmir is a charity based project for physically and mentally handicapped children which was established in December 2010 under the management of ZOBIA NAZLEY MEMORIAL TRUST (Reg.1137154) UK / AK. The school provides children with education, physiotherapy, speech therapy, psychotherapy, music therapy etc. anything that helps these children become as independent as they can and generally improve their condition. The school management can be contacted via the website zobiatrust.com,
Who was Zobia?
Zobia Nazley, born 30/12/1993, she was born with Dandy Walker Syndrome. She was cared for at home and at Victoria School based in Northfield, Birmingham. The care and attention Zobia received at home is what gave the inspiration for the under privileged areas we currently have in regions of Pakistan/ Azad Kashmir.
Zobia was extremely loved at home by her immediate family and everyone that had the pleasure of her company, as she brought a warmth to the room with her loving happy smile. Victoria School always complimented her, on how happy and lively she was.
Her condition was as such, that she could not walk, or talk and communication was through gestures. This didn’t stop her from communicating how she feels or if she disliked something. Sadly due to her condition and weakened immune system she suffered from a severe chest infection unfortunately left this world 4th April 2002.
Her parents now reside in Birmingham UK and are originally from Azad Kashmir, Mirpur region where there are areas of poverty but more importantly there was no support structure for people with disabilities and this generated an idea to create something for everyone to remember Zobia by for a very long time, InshAllah (God willing).
“The idea was first thought up by her parents, they felt the pain and could sympathise with those parents who have disabled children. “
The idea of a charity school
At the time their was no school or facility for anyone with disabilities, the unfortunate reality of the situation was that disability was seen as a negative thing or people simply couldn’t afford to do anything about it. The main concern was that children were being neglected and amongst a lot of these children there was only physical disabilities of all levels with mental functionality working as normal.
For those whose conditions are mental and/or physical there is no physiotherapy available as this isn’t as readily available as any other medications or treatment for other health problems.
There was a major need for awareness and functional support for those who have disabilities in Azad Kashmir and Pakistan. Although there are are school that deal with the blind and deaf, Zobia School was to be the first of it’s kind to open their.
The idea was first thought up by her parents, they felt the pain and could sympathise with those parents who have disabled children. Khawaja Zafar came to the UK in 2005 and is born and raised in Azad Kashmir. He is Zobia’s Uncle and when Zobia’s parents discussed with Khawaja Zafar what they wanted to do, immediately they began discussing how it was a brilliant idea and Khawaja Zafar volunteered to support all functional and facilitation in Azad Kashmir. They both agreed and conversed about the more disadvantaged families such as where they are from originally in Azad Kashmir and how beneficial this would be for them. With the help and support of family and friends the project of a creating a culture that supports and facilitates for people with disabilities was initiated.
The beginning/ creation of the committee
The charity began in 2005 with Mohammad Iqbal (Father of Zobia), Mohammad Saddique, Qamar Ul-Haq Qureshi, these are the Trustees of Zobia Nazeley Memorial Trust UK which is functional as a registered charity with the sole purpose of raising funds and supporting Zobia School.
Funding and support was gained from the trustees gathering and saving their own earnings overtime. Initially they had acquired enough money to get the school open but due to unforeseen forces of nature, a major earthquake hit Pakistan in 2005, many areas/ regions including Azad Kashmir were affected. At the time the trustees collectively decided that the most immediate use for the money should be to help those who are in dire need of the support that the money could give.
Not to miss an opportunity to get the name out their, shelters were created to help the homeless and they were given in the name of Zobia Nazley Memorial Trust, this is the charity organisation that get its funding for the school. Many families now had shelters and food to help them through the difficult times.
Alhamdullilah (Praise be to God) when the situation had got better it was time to reconcile funds and get the project off to a start again. Then in 2007, the trustees again gathered enough funds to now begin the project again.
Finding a location initially proved difficult, as there were a few location but did not fit the objectives and the criteria of what the project was requiring at the time. As we could foresee, among the difficulties of the project, getting children to school would become a major hurdle in the matter. So having a prime location was imperative, and as fortune would have it a building became available on Allama Iqbal Road, Mirpur, Azad Kashmir. This is a central location and would prove to be ideal in providing a reasonable distance for children to travel to and from.
After receiving all relevant permissions and building the foundations of what was required for a unique and individual school of it’s kind, in 2010 Zobia School was first opened.
Aims and Objectives
1. To promote the relief and rehabilitation of physically and/ or mentally disabled children/ people in Azad Kashmir by establishing and providing therapeutic facilities and educational programmes, vocational training programmes, vocational training centres, paramedical training and other services relevant to the needs of such disabled children/ people and their families.
2. To reach out to disabled persons, and their families and provide a range of relief and care services. Such services maybe provided through institutional care or in there homes, incase the families and their disabled member are unable to access the services outside the house.
3. To enable and empower persons with disabilities to live as independently and as fully as possible, within and as close to the communities to which they belong
4. to deal with problems of persons with disabilities who do not have family support
5. to promote measures for the care and protection of persons with disabilities in the even of death of their parent/ guardian.
Getting the students
It proved to be a difficult ordeal finding and enrolling students to the school as many had apprehensions on taking their child away as this was a totally new experience for the parents/ guardians The thought was that the child had no ability and they had accepted this as the future for their child, so when we approached a lot of the families their initial reaction was to reject the proposition of having their children at school. For many they could simply not afford to provide their children with uniforms, travel etc so this would all be again funded through the charity on a trust basis. For those who could afford to pay are to pay and for those not fortunate enough the charity would accommodate all the needs of the individuals.
The school started with 5 students, 3 full time teachers, 1 part time physiotherapist and Khawaja Zafar became the chairman of the school. Kh. Zafar Iqbal is appointed as the main co-ordinator and representative in Pakistan, directions and planning are created here in the UK.
Victoria School in Birmingham where Zobia spent most her time, played a crucial part in the beginnings of the school. A container containing equipment and apparatus to cater for disabled children was donated very kindly by the school, this was ex equipment but was in perfectly good working order and suited the purpose at the time.
Zobia’s Mother was a volunteer at the school and picked up many skills in regards to handling, treating and various physiotherapy techniques shown to her by the teachers and carers at Victoria School. These skills attributed to the basic training of the teaching staff of Zobia School. When Zobia’s mother visited the school she passed on this knowledge to the newly hired teachers their who had not had any previous experience in working with physically disabled children. The foundations of the school had now been set and the begging of the quest to help all those who had disabilities to have a brighter and more sustained future.