“My name is Ghulam Muhammad Baig. Currently, I live in Glasgow, Scotland with my family. Originally, I am from Hunza, Gilgit Baltistan. I am a student of the social sciences at the City of Glasgow College.
I started my initial education in Pakistan and then moved with my family to the UK at the age of seven in 2006.
Since my father was working in the Pakistan military, I vividly remember that we moved from place to place. This resulted in me changing schools. I went to Sesame school in Abbottabad and then later on when we moved to Rawalpindi, I attended the Umeed E Noor School in Islamabad which is run by the Hashoo Foundation. Though not fully aware but by then I had started being aware that I have got some disabilities in the form of difficulties in speaking, eating, walking, handwriting, and doing things with my hands.
Then when I came to the UK, I started to attend a special needs school called Kelbourne Primary where I studied there for five years. Those five years were really important to improve my language and communication skills. The support I got there in the form of education, speech therapy, hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, and occupational therapy transformed some of my disabilities to abilities. After completing primary school I went to a special needs secondary school named Ashton Secondary School where I spent six years. The years at Ashton were more challenging, mentally, and physically. This school had students from different cultural backgrounds and I had real difficulties coping with my peers. However, I learned with errors and mistakes and gained confidence by the sixth year, to the extent, that I was able to speak on any issue in front of the whole school and many of my teachers were happy with me. After acquiring the necessary qualifications set by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), I was able to be enrolled in the social sciences course at the City Of Glasgow College where I am for the last three years. I am interested in the social sciences because I want to investigate how society functions, what are the different attitudes within society, and what are the different hurdles/barriers in society.
During this educational journey over the last sixteen years, I picked up some hobbies which included practicing karate, playing and watching cricket, playing video games, and reading books. I also spent a lot of time watching movies at home and in the cinema. I am very fond of watching cricket especially when the Pakistani Cricket Team plays and had even gone to Sharjah to see a cricket match between Pakistan and the West Indies.
I am also interested in international politics. I volunteer from time to time at Oxfam Music Shop and I also volunteer with Refugweegee which helps refugees settle in Scotland.
With this above background, over the last three to four years, I had started feeling grateful in my heart for this opportunity to be in the UK where I received excellent education and support which led to so much improvement in my difficulties. I used to think about what could have happened if I had not been able to come to the UK? I started finding out how difficult is it for people like me to get an education and other support in developing countries like Pakistan.
In 2019, I decided that I should help and campaign for the disabled community of Gilgit Baltistan, in whatever capacity I can and this is where the idea of creating the Goodwill movement came from.
When I look at the experiences of disabled persons in Pakistan and compare it to the UK, here, society treats its disabled community equally. As a disabled student studying at the City of Glasgow College, I can say that the disability issue in Gilgit Baltistan has remained a long term neglected issue.
Initially, I did primary research on the disability issue in Gilgit Baltistan by contacting two well renowned disabled rights activists, Irshad Kazmi and Amjad Nadeem who provided me with an insight into the disabled community of Gilgit Baltistan.
According to them, the government of Gilgit Baltistan has attempted to address this issue by involving Nadeem and Kazmi in the decision-making process, but we collectively feel that the issues faced by the disabled community cannot be solved solely by the government. So we propose, as citizens of the society that we should be helping the government in whatever capacities that we can.
Therefore, Gilgit Baltistan’s Goodwill movement is an initiative in which we can debate, discuss, and assess how can we help the disabled community of Gilgit Baltistan. So we would appeal to all members of the public to partake and volunteer in the Goodwill movement as this is and should be a permanent initiative that society should contribute towards.
The Goodwill movement started back in 2019 as a result of collaboration with disabled activists Amjad Nadeem and Irshad Kazmi from the Gilgit Baltistan’s Disability Development foundation (GBDF). The GBDF informs the Goodwill movement of their events which we share on our platforms. For example their ration drive to Ghizer, Hunza in May 2020.
And despite insufficient resources, in May 2020 we fundraised for the GBDF and raised over 6 Lakhs PKR rupees to support their ration drive which has fed over 300 families during this Covid19 crisis. However, with official support, we could expand our resources to further support the disabled community of Gilgit Baltistan.
I would like to thank the OEC, the GBDF foundation, my family and my friends, for the ongoing support that they have provided, but apart from this, I have had no other official help.
My long term aim would be for this platform to have increased support from the public by increasing disability awareness, moving the disabled community out of social exclusion and by donating to our future fundraisers because this would be crucial in helping us pursue our long term goals during the COVID19 pandemic and beyond.
So we appeal to all the members of the OEC community to view the Facebook & Twitter accounts of the Gilgit Baltistan’s Goodwill movement and participate in the debates and discussions that we have in the future.
GBDM’s Facebook page link:
GBDM’s Twitter Account: