Pakistani Catholics spread joy to disabled Muslims

Eid gifts handed out to students at Dorothea Center for Special Children interfaith ceremony
Pakistani Catholics spread joy to disabled Muslims

Former Punjab minister for minorities and human rights Khalil Tahir Sindhu (center) and DCSC director Khalid Shahzad attend the Eid gift distribution ceremony at the Ambassador Hotel in Lahore on May 31. (Photo by Kamran Chaudhry)

A Catholic organization distributed gifts to disabled Muslim students at a pre-Eid ceremony in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore.

The Dorothea Center for Special Children (DCSC) hosted the ceremony for 35 mentally and physically handicapped students and their parents at the Ambassador Hotel on May 31. 

The students, aged 6-18, offered garlands to speakers who said prayers before urging the need for interfaith events during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

DCSC director Khalid Shahzad called for the implementation of a jobs quota for people with special needs.

According to the Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance passed in 1981, any company employing more than 100 people has to reserve 2 percent of jobs for people with disabilities. However, the law is hardly implemented, said Shahzad.

"The only solution is to make disabled people more independent," he said.

Shahzad said Muslim families do not allow DCSC's Catholic staff to leave without food during home visits even at Ramadan. "True acceptance is vital for interfaith harmony," he said.

Khalil Tahir Sindhu, a Catholic, spent his last day as Punjab's minister for minorities and human rights with DCSC students. The Punjab Assembly dissolved on May 31.

Aneesur Rehman, vice-president of Special Olympics Pakistan, told ucanews.com that inter-religious seminars and events have become an annual tradition in Pakistan.

"Our gifted children deserve all the support, especially because they are better than normal athletes. Our teams have won hundreds of medals in world games," Rehman said.

Founded in 2001, DCSC offers free therapy classes in sports, arts, music, daily living skills, toilet training, hygiene and behavior to children with Down syndrome and other disabilities. 

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