Rabia Khedr – DEEN Support Services
Rabia Khedr is an inspiration as she broke barriers and made strides in helping persons of disabilities, women and communities all over the GTA.
Inspired by a true trailblazer, Rafia Haniff-Cleofas an observant Muslim woman with a disability, that does not let anything stop her. Rabia Khedr is a pillar of charity work, member of the Board of Directors of Accessibility Standards Canada, co-chairs the Canadian-Muslim Covid Task Force, and a member of the Covid Task Force and Covid Disability Advisory Group to Minister Qualtrough.
She is a blind woman who has done so much in regards to helping those with disabilities and started her own non-profit organization that is founded by Muslims with disabilities called DEEN Support Services. Rabia Khedr is currently serving as the CEO of the organization which operates a number of programs and services to communities in Ontario and virtually nationwide.
She was born in a small village in the Punjab part of Pakistan. She grew up in Mississauga from the age of 4 with 3 younger siblings with disabilities and basically achieved all major life milestones in Mississauga. She has a BA from U of T and a MA from York. Her undergrad is in Political science and Industrial Relations and her MA is in disability studies.
When asked, what motivated her and why she got into this profession, her response was:
“The challenges my family faced is what drives me to do the work I do today. I followed the path that Allah SWT guided me to.”
SubhanAllah. Many families in our communities face the same situations as she has and our communities have looked the other way. But not Rabia Khedr and the amazing people at DEEN. Their lived experience inspires them to address the barriers for our communities most vulnerable members.
DEEN is a charity run for and by people with disabilities and their families. They embody the principle “nothing about us without us.” They offer culturally and spiritually relevant programs and services to help build life skills and peer support as well as respite. They are working on a residential care program to help those in need and provide some relief to their caregivers.
One of Rabia Khedr’s goals is to establish a centre in each community or city where the need is in the community and open residential care homes where families can be sure that their loved ones with a disability will be cared for within our values and traditions. There are situations currently where families can no longer care for their loved ones and they have to be put in residential homes where our values, traditions and religion aren’t met. This is just one of the reasons why Rabia Khedr urges people to donate more locally. We need our communities to help fund organizations like DEEN and others so they can better help our own communities.
Below are some questions and answers from our interview with Rabia Khedr.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
“Building DEEN from the ground up as a full-service agency that makes a difference in the lives of people we support.”
What are the main lessons you’ve learned in life?
“Have a dream and work hard to make it a reality. If you’re genuine, the path will be made easier.”
What barriers did you or the people you serve have to overcome or trying to overcome?
“The biggest barriers are attitudinal. We are working hard to raise awareness and promote accessibility and inclusion.”
Any advice you would like to give the people reading this?
“Can you make a difference that you dream of? Yes, you can if I can.”
Rabia Khedr is an inspiration to all, she did not limit herself as she broke barriers and achieved remarkable feats. May Allah ﷻ allow us to help and support organizations like DEEN. May Allah ﷻ preserve her and reward her for her services.