Published: 28th July 2021
His son overcame ataxia to become a college prof. Now, this dad is telling the world stories we need to hear
We speak to Iftikhar Zia, whose platform Possiabilities tells stories about the abilities rather than disabilities of people with rare, incurable diseases
When Iftikhar Zia decided to create Possiabilities, he was motivated by a desire to highlight the wonderful abilities and achievements of the differently-abled, intellectually disabled and those with rare and incurable diseases. He wanted to tell stories about people who braved the odds stacked against them, overcame it and emerged victorious in life. Launched during the lockdown last year, Possiabilities is a platform for stories and reports of people who didn't let anything, not even physical and mental disabilities, bring them down. Through it, Zia also hopes to connect these people with each other.
The reason behind launching Possiabilities is a very personal one for Zia. His son, who is now an Assistant Professor of Zoology at a college in Chennai, was diagnosed with a rare neurological condition called ataxia when he was in Class 11. "I have been volunteering with causes related to rare diseases and the differently-abled for a long time with the intention of spreading awareness about these rare diseases and to promote the need for inclusion," says Zia. After volunteering for several years, Zia was able to connect with people with various forms of disabilities and rare diseases. "Most of these people are great performers and achievers and have not let their disabilities define them," says Zia, who is a marketing professional.
Ataxia is a rare neurological disorder where there is a loss of balance and coordination of bodily functions. It can be caused due to damage to the nerves, brain or even the muscles
During the lockdown, Zia, who could not volunteer for causes close to his heart, decided to reconnect with some of these people in the hope of spreading some positivity. With their permission, he began writing their stories and posting them on the website. "I wanted the stories to focus more on these people's abilities rather than their disabilities," says Zia. But his plans are to expand Possiabilities beyond just telling stories. "Eventually, I want to create virtual exhibitions and classrooms for differently-abled people to showcase their talent and products that they have made," adds Zia. He also expresses his desire to modify the platform into an e-commerce website as well. "People who develop products for the differently-abled can connect with their customers directly through the platform. But this will be developed much later," he adds.
Zia is doing it all solo. After collecting the write-ups, he also talks to the person he is featuring to ensure credibility. He edits the stories himself and then publishes it on the platform. He has managed to write 180 stories over the last one year and approximately 90 of those are stories of differently-abled people. The rest, he says, is information about rare diseases and also stories about NGOs, other organisations and support groups working in that field.