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Special needs couple visiting UAE want to change public perception

Coming to the UAE was a dream that came true for the deaf teachers, thanks to Ramada Hotels in Ajman

  • Muhammad Kashif Khokar and Erum Kashif Khokar, a deaf couple hosted by Ramada Hotel.Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • Muhammad Kashif Khokar and Erum Kashif Khokar, a deaf couple hosted by Ramada Hotel. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News
  • Muhammad Kashif Khokar and Erum Kashif Khokar, a deaf couple hosted by Ramada Hotel. Reporter: Mary AchkhanianImage Credit:
Gulf News

Ajman: For Mohammad Khokar and Erum Kashif seeing Dubai up-close and personal was one thing they both wished they can do.

Upon their arrival, Dubai and the neighbouring emirate did not disappoint them. Experiencing a welcoming plurality of nationalities and an orderly infrastructure was a joy for the married couple.

The deaf couple from Pakistan recently got the opportunity to visit the UAE with the help of a generous Ajman hotel, that hosted them for a week as part of a CSR initiative dedicated to showing appreciation for inspiring individuals.

Coming all the way from Sukkur, a town in the Pakistani province of Sindh, the couple have both been on a mission to change the lives of others by teaching deaf students at the Deaf Reach School in Pakistan.

“It has always been our dream to travel, know different cultures and meet different people. So when we came here we appreciated the diverse culture in the UAE, and we were able to meet people from different countries and learn about many cultures in one place,” Kashif, a 26-year-old fine arts teacher, told Gulf News.

Ramada Hotels in Ajman took the couple around for one week during which they were able to experience a dhow cruise, desert safari and tours to Dubai’s famous attractions like The Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, and Dubai Fountain.

Kashif’s husband, whom she had first met at the same school in 2008 when she was a student, said he was amazed with the kindness of the people he met throughout his journey.

“I mainly appreciated the respect that I got from ordinary people. Everyone we have come across have been so kind and compassionate with us,” said Khokar, an IT teacher.

Growing up in Rashidabad, Pakistan, Khokar said he had faced many challenges because of his disability. However, this never stopped him and his wife from making their valuable contributions to society.

“I experienced a lot of rejection, whether at the normal school I attended as a child, while looking for jobs or at shops and restaurants. The lack of awareness about the needs of deaf people should be addressed, starting with the facilities and communication,” he said.

His wife expressed similar sentiments. But despite the discouragement they had faced growing up, they are still positive about changing the perceptions around deaf people.

“I accepted the teaching job only because I could not get any other job, but now it has become my passion and my mission to work hard to change the lives of people. I don’t think anyone should face the same rejection and challenges I faced being deaf,” said Khokar, who is now 41.

It was through his job that he found his soul mate, he said. “I’d always intended to marry a deaf girl because I felt we would be able to understand each other better.”

His wife, Kashif, too, believes her life took a good turn when she joined the school. Her sister, who is not deaf, decided to learn sign language to support her sister and later chose to become a teacher in the same school.

“I didn’t want to remain a stay-at-home wife, so when I asked my husband if I can join, he didn’t have a problem. Ever since, I’ve been so passionate about it,” she said.

The couple believe in this age and time, the world should be aware of the needs of the deaf and other people with disability.

“As deaf people, we would appreciate sign language boards in public places and more deaf people employed in establishments. One of the challenges that we still face is in terms of getting information and entertainment, specifically watching news on television,” he said.

Ramada Hotel & Suites Ajman and Ramada Beach Hotel Ajman have reached out to a total of 15 teachers and their families from Deaf Reach Schools in Pakistan to host them for free throughout August and September, even providing them free transport and entertainment.

For many of those families, travelling to Dubai had been their dream. Given their financial situation, it had not been feasible, and that’s when the hotel stepped in.

Iftikhar Hamdani, Cluster General Manager of Ramada Hotels announced that the hotel which will run the initiative every summer, is looking at providing job opportunities for people from the Deaf Reach Schools.

“We are honoured to host the hardworking teachers from Deaf Reach School in Pakistan. In this Year of Giving, it is important to help out and reward such inspiring individuals. We hope that through this trip, we are able to provide them with lasting memories, and will motivate them further in their noble teaching profession,” said Hamdani.