Farhat Rasheed is one of the most inspiring individuals I have come across. The confidence, compassion and courage she embodies and exhibits are remarkable; her passion for the betterment of society is truly commendable. Her positive attitude and drive is what sets her apart from the masses. She is making ripples all over Karachi, aiming to bring about a wave of change in the mindsets of Pakistani society. Representing all the qualities that define compassion, Farhat is our compassionate personality for this month.
*Beep beep* went the metal detector when my colleague and I entered the Unilever office, located inside one of Karachi’s most prestigious hotels. We told the receptionist the purpose of our visit and within a minute we were shown to a quaint little conference room.
Farhat, Assistant Brand Manager soon wheeled in with a welcoming smile. Farhat has Cerebral Palsy by birth. As we started talking, she explained Cerebral Palsy children can be mentally and physically challenged. In Farhat’s case, however, it has affected only her movement and it is managed through regular physiotherapy.
Though she has been through much, she is kind and gracious; grateful for the support of her family, friends and all the people who have encouraged her. Farhat studied at the Centre of Advanced Studies (The C.A.S School) until she completed her O-Levels. She fondly recalled the teachers and classmates who helped her through her studies. She told us how the school had been accommodating enough to schedule her classes in one classroom, located on the ground floor, for four years due to her condition. When she required extra time in class and academic help, her teachers had been very understanding and facilitating.
For her A-Levels, Farhat had wanted to go to the prestigious schools like Lyceum, Karachi Grammar School (KGS), but because of lack of accessibilities in such high profile institutions, she was not able to find her place. She courageously tried school after school until she finally got admission into Foundation Public School, where she finished her high school studies very comfortably.
Two years later, applying for university, she again found herself faced a new set of challenges. She applied to Karachi’s finest business school, the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), where, once again due to lack of facilities for the wheelchair access, she could not attend. Unwavering, she applied to the Institute of Business Management (IoBM) which had ramps and lifts in every building, where she learned much more than just academics. Farhat gained even more confidence; the shy little girl became talkative and learned to fend for herself. She equipped herself with the skills to face life’s challenges and fight her battles. Once again, through her compassionate nature, hard work, dedication and passion for life, she won the hearts of her peers and teachers, who ended up supporting her and guiding her wholeheartedly through her university years. During her studies, Farhat managed to earn herself a place on the highly-coveted internship program at Unilever’s where she eventually landed herself a job after graduation.
Through her experiences and achievements, Farhat has always remained humble, carrying herself with humility, dignity and grace. Farhat understands that she has been one of the few lucky ones in our society: she has been given the right kind of exposure; her affluent background allowed her to attend some of the best institutes; and not to forget her family’s constant support and encouragement for all her personal projects and initiatives. Farhat’s experiences have transformed her into the epitome of compassion: she now personifies traits of courage, empathy, humility, gratitude and a passion to make the world a better place.
In a society like Pakistan Farhat has had to fight hard for the basic rights of people with disabilities. She has a full time job, does physiotherapy every day, leaving her with barely enough time for herself. And yet, she still manages to fight for causes, raise awareness and help others.
Farhat practices what is termed as ‘altruism’: the practice of selfless concern for the well-being of others. She does so by counseling people with disabilities and anyone who comes to her for guidance. She is a person so compassionate that anyone can discuss their troubles and concerns with her.
Farhat also manages an oragnisation called Show-You-Care (SYC). SYC is an organized society of young people working towards addressing the concerns of physically challenged people. SYC aims to impress upon the concerned authorities the need to provide proper accessibilities for the wheelchair bound people in public places, such as ramps and elevators. Through (SYC) she hopes to change the mindsets and attitudes of Pakistanis towards special people, especially since our society still has a very conservative attitude towards people with disabilities. She believes special people are not “Disabled” but rather “Differently Able”. SYC has also made contributions twice to the flood victims in Pakistan (more information about SYC can be found on her website: http://www.show-u-care.org/).
Recently, Farhat applied pressure on a number of restaurants, shops and malls to install ramps so as to make public places more accessible to special people. She was succesful in making ramps at: Pizza Hut (Mohammad Ali Society Branch), Shoe Planet, Chen One, the new Naheed Store, Gazebo, Hardees, Café 76 and Pond’s Skin Care Centre and Tony & Guy Salon at Dolmen Mall.
Farhat’s is a woman on a mission and her fight has not been easy; she requires all the support she can get. She is truly a brave individual with a desire to make a difference in her community. We support her and wish her best of luck in her struggles for this noble cause.
amazing, very inspiring!!
A true example of determination and high passion
That’s great, Farhat.
I hope academic institutions follow suit and make their infastructure wheel chair accessible so that everyone has a fair chance at getting the best education.It’s ironic how schools want to evolve and offer education at par with their western counterparts but they still lag behind in basic facilities.
Very Impressing and courageous young lady.
Amazing Farhat… God bless you 🙂