This piece is a contribution by Ayesha Zubair Dada and Zahra Shah (Naya Jeevan) and Jeremy Higgs (NOWPDP, Managing Editor on TC-P), covering their work in procuring health insurance for young people with disabilities in Pakistan. 

In early 2011, Rachel Sun Xiangyu, a 21 year-old student from Hangzhou, China, travelled to Pakistan to complete a traineeship at Naya Jeevan. Having a passion for making friendship bands, she came up with the idea of teaching students to make these bracelets, with their own unique style. The staff at Naya Jeevan and the Network of Organizations Working for People with Disabilities, Pakistan (NOWPDP) recognised an opportunity to spread her impact on Pakistan, while reaching out to a vulnerable population.
Making bracelets
From this seed of an idea, Naya Jeevan and NOWPDP are launching a campaign to provide a means for all people to provide a safety net for children with disabilities studying at special education institutions in Karachi (around 7000 children). Just one bracelet (for around 200 rupees), will provide health insurance for a month, and a small income to the child or teacher in the school who made it.

BraceletsThis is not just any health insurance; this insurance provides preventive health care workshops and a 24 hour medical hot-line to clients along with their emergency medical coverage in case of an accident. NOWPDP and Naya Jeevan have joined hands to put together a managed care fund for these students; who would otherwise be refused coverage from insurance companies due to a misconception that their condition is associated with a higher risk of accidents.

On board with us in this campaign are Manzil and the Karachi Vocational Training Centre. Mizbah from Manzil tells us about why she’s involved in the campaign:

But we’re not stopping there! We’re also establishing an art therapy programme (with the help of artist, Sonia Chundrigar) at selected schools in Karachi (and in the future, across Pakistan), from which the proceeds of the sale of their artwork will cover the insurance costs of the children and establish a fund for future years. The two teams have also submitted this proposal to US State Department 2011 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) and the proposed project has been selected as one of the final projects to be considered for funding.

It’s time NGOs came together to avoid duplication of plans and utilise each other’s unique resources;  Naya Jeevan and NOWPDP pooled ideas to provide a much needed facility for a vulnerable population, circumventing the obvious hurdles and thinking out of the box. It’s remarkable how a young foreigner has left behind a legacy that could touch and save many lives of children who may never know where Hangzhou even is. Make sure you don’t miss out on being part of making this dream into a reality!

How you can help:

  • Buy a bracelet – and wear it. Use the compliments you get to complement the life of a child with a disability, and convince your friends to do the same.
  • Inform us of any possible sponsors you think could help – corporate or private.
  • Spread the word!
  • Follow the Facebook page for updates
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