People might not understand and recognise the problems of disabled people but are now ready to accept them as those who have there, own personality. Dr. Sabir Michael is one such person, who unlike most of his colleagues is
Dr. Sabir Michael
People might not understand and recognise the problems of disabled people but are now ready to accept them as those who have there, own personality. Dr. Sabir Michael is one such person, who unlike most of his colleagues is blind. He has a Master’s in Social Work and a PhD in Sociology, both from the University of Karachi. Currently, Dr. Michael is employed by the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (Szabist) as an assistant professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences. Before coming to Szabist, Dr. Michael was the chairperson at the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences Greenwich University.
Dr Sabir Michael, who has achieved so much despite the fact that he cannot see is admirable. His parents were sanitary workers and had no interest in his education. His two siblings, a brother and a sister are also blind. Blindness runs in their family. Dr Michael credits his grandfather who had the vision to get him educated despite protests from his parents.
Born in Karachi, Dr Michael was sent to a school for regular children but a British nun thought it was not a good idea, and so he was dispatched to a Christian School and Home for the Blind at Okara, Punjab. The school was run by a Catholic Italian priest Father Amato Aldino who became his mentor and helped him to continue his education till he graduated, all from Okara.
Dr Sabir Michael had decided to do his PhD while he was still in class seven. He credits Haji Muhammad Ahmed from UK, Seema Mughal, vice chancellor of Greenwich University, and few of his colleagues and friends for believing in him and providing constant moral and financial support for his PhD. He had special gratitude for Dr Fateh Muhammad Burfat, chairman, Department of Sociology, Karachi University, who accepted and guided him as a research scholar.
Dr Sabir Michael found the students and the teachers very understanding but had mostly bitter experiences when he entered the job market after doing his PhD. Most of his prospective employers were quite sympathetic and talked sweetly with him. But they were not ready to employ a blind person. He would never forget the kindness and understanding of Seema Mughal, who employed him as a faculty member. He is quite happy at Szabist as both the teachers and students have begun to accept him as a colleague and teacher.
In fact, our society is still not ready to accept the disabled persons. May be 95 per cent of the society approves, but there is no 100 per cent. Sadly, it never is. Disabled people have two per cent employment quota that includes grades 17 to 22 but that is seldom implemented. Dr michael applied for a teaching job at the University of Sindh but was turned down with a reply that the quota did not include these grades (17 to 22).
Dr Michael speaks Urdu, Punjabi, English and Italian languages. He has learned Italian at the Italian Language and Culture Centre, Karachi University and Rome. He is wary of the shortage of teaching aids in Karachi University and other institutions, mostly due to exorbitant costs. More books in ‘Braille Press’ are needed, in these institutions.
In addition to Italy Dr Michael has visited the UK, France and most recently Malaysia where he attended a conference of the Asia Pacific Association of Social Work and presented a paper on terrorism.
Dr Sabir Michael, who has met Pope John Paul II, is married and has a daughter. He met his wife at the World Social Forum held at Karachi. His wife has normal vision, and has worked as a teacher, but currently she is a housewife.