Authors Posts by Communications Office

Communications Office

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April 2014

During April 2014, Church World Service –Pakistan/Afghanistan (CWS-P/A) brought twenty-one teachers from public and private organizational schools together for a hands-on learning experience. The five-day workshop at CWS-P/A’s training center in Murree focused on the concepts and ways to effectively implement early childhood education.

Thirteen female and eight male teachers from Sargodha, Gujranwala, Kasur, Islamabad, and Lahore were selected for this workshop based on their interest to learn new skills and ability to provide training to other teachers. They came from either the formal or informal primary education systems. Today’s children face social, political, environmental, and technology issues; therefore, it is important to set up a value system which provides diversified and better learning opportunities.

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April 2014

Alishang District is a remote area in Laghman Province, Afghanistan. Masamoot is a village within the district. Approximately, seven hundred families reside in stone and mud houses closely built together in the mountainous village. Living conditions are poor and poverty is widespread. While some individuals earn money by selling fire wood or harvesting wheat and corn on small plots of agricultural land, a majority of the residents are unemployed. Food security is constantly threatened because of low crop production, a result of the inadequate irrigation source. Geographically this area is located near a fault line and has been affected by earthquakes, floods, continuous drought, war, and political instability for the past three decades.

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Background:

Efforts to provide relief to families affected by monsoon rains and flooding in Northern Afghanistan continue. Inaccessibility remains a challenge in areas where roadways were severely damaged, where floodwaters remain, and where insecurity poses high risk to relief efforts. Overcoming these challenges will be essential to ensuring the most vulnerable families in these areas receive assistance, too.

In Argo District, many families struggle to cope with difficulties in the aftermath of the landslides. Flashfloods and landslides in the country over the past weeks have affected 120,000 people across 16 provinces. An estimated 675 people have died. Many of them were swept away by floodwaters or buried under mud.

Many of the affected families depend on small-scale farming as their main source of income and food. The effects of the floods and landslides will be largely felt during harvest in the coming months as their season’s crops remain under water or mud. In addition to meeting affected families’ emergency needs, recovery efforts in the months ahead will be essential to restore livelihoods.

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Khurma Bibi lost her husband two years ago due to cancer. Prior to his death, Khurma Bibi’s husband provided for the family’s basic needs by working as a daily wage laborer. He also supplemented his income by harvesting wheat on a small area of land that he owned in their village, Chosbash Turkmania, which is located in Khawaja Do Koh District, Jawzjan Province. “I faced many problems after his death because I became the only provider for my family. My sons Sharif (7 years) and Saifuddin (4 years) are too young,” shared Khurma Bibi.

Khurma Bibi soon adapted and began working from home, using her skills in carpet weaving to earn income. “This was not enough, but I could manage to some extent with it.” She explained that she could earn an average of 2,500 afghani (USD 44), which she budgeted well in order to meet her family’s daily expenses.

For Khurma Bibi life became tougher when heavy flooding destroyed her home including her machinery and carpet weaving tools. “I was only able to escape with my children. When I looked back at my home and the other homes in my village, they were completely destroyed along with all the agricultural lands. The lands were the only source of income for many of the residents. The year’s food supplies as well as household belongings and animals were all under murky waters.” With tears in her eyes, Khurma Bibi said, “I lost everything.”

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“My father died three years ago, and now, I lost five family members in this disaster. It seems my death is better than my life. Now, there is no one to support in the upbringing  of my two remaining children or look after their safety while I go out to earn for our meals, clothes, medicines, and other necessities,” shared Bazamgull, 30, resident of Ab Barik Village, Argo, Badakhshan.

“It was around 11:00 a.m. while I was working in the city of Faizabad. I received a phone call from one of the villagers who asked me to come back to the village as soon as possible since my entire family, my home, and my assets were ruined under the debris of a landslide.

“I immediately stopped working and rushed back to my home.” With extreme sorrow Bazamgull expressed, “As I arrived at my village, I was astonished to see that my entire village, my home, everything had disappeared under the mud. I started to ask around about my family; a village member directed me toward two of my children. My two youngest children, my wife, mother, and sister all were under the debris. The villagers had tried their best to save them, but it was impossible for them to rescue my family.”

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Background:

The targeted security operation in North Waziristan Agency started after a suicide bomber hit an explosive laden truck at an Army check post, which destroyed the check post and the adjacent Masjid, killing 5 soldiers and injuring many on December 18, 2013. Non-state armed groups attacked soldiers involved in the rescue operation after the attack. On December 19, 2013, in retaliation, the military commenced targeted security operation against the militants.

A series of attacks followed including a suicide attack on a military outpost near Mir Ali which resulted in the killing of 23 Frontier Corps Personnel by the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP). Fear of a counter attack by the military resulted in the displacement of 23,061 individuals by February 20, 2014. Most of the internally displaced people (IDPs) moved to their second homes in Bannu or stayed with relatives in the area. The affected area was never notified, thus, those who moved were not entitled to be registered by the Government.

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Earthquake

A moderate earthquake struck northwest Pakistan on Saturday, causing panic in towns and cities, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage, an official shared.

Mohammad Riaz, a senior scientist at the Pakistan Meteorological Department, shared the magnitude 6.0 earthquake was felt in the northwestern city of Peshawar, Swat Valley, and several nearby areas. The epicenter was located in the Hindu Kush in neighboring Afghanistan. Peshawar is the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province which borders Afghanistan. On June 12, 2014, mild tremors of magnitude 4.3 on Richter scale were also felt in Shangla District.

Cyclone Nanauk

More than thirty villages of Sindh and the Makran coastal belt have been submerged by the high tide in the Arabian Sea, preceding a cyclone that was predicted to hit the coast of Oman on June 15.

The protective embankment of Keti Bunder in Thatta was damaged due to which several villages in Keti Bander, Kharochhan, and Ghorabari were flooded which includes the villages of Esa Khaskheli, Usman Khaskheli, Siddique Ronjho, Arif Samo, Allah Dito Sahito, Ahmed Jatt and others in Kharo Chhan, Hashim Rajwani, Muhammad Hussain Chandio, Qadir Bakhsh Sakhani and Yousuf Dablo in Keti Bunder and Aarib Mallah, Bachayo Mallah, Ahmed Sodai and Idrees Gagwani in Ghora Bari.

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Background:

On June 16, 2014, locals in North Waziristan asked the government to ensure safe passage to leave the tribal agency after the authorities blocked all roads from the area ahead of the military operation. FATA Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) Director General Arshad Khan said that unless the curfew in the area is lifted, the FDMA is unable to help those stranded in the area. “We will provide free transport to tribesmen wishing to leave once the curfew is lifted,” he said. Arshad Khan explained that during previous operations in the region, the FDMA was given at least two weeks warning in order to finalize provisions for aid and the sudden operation has left the FDMA scrambling to provide for an estimated 600,000 IDPs.

The registration of displaced people on the Bannu-Miramshah Road has commenced. The FDMA director general shared that migration toward Bannu has been underway since May 22 where security sources confirmed that camps have been established. “So far, we have registered 4,350 families, with 60,000 individuals including women and children,” he said.

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“We must live in love and harmony. We need to help each other, and this is what the puppet show and theater performance also showed us,” said Indra, a third grade student from Mirpurkhas. Indra participates in CWS-P/A’s project, Peace Education for Primary and Middle Schools. CWS-P/A and its partners including Society for Safe Environment & Welfare of Agrarians in Pakistan (SSEWA-PAK), Primary Education Project (PEP) Hyderabad, Participatory Village Development Program (PVDP), and Kaachi Community Development Association (KCDA) work to promote peace education among primary and middle schools in rural areas of Sindh Province. CWS-P/A’s peace manual for teachers and workbook for students has been made part of the curriculum among schools that have incorporated peace education as a course.

Over 100 participants including teachers and students recently attended a puppet show organized in Mirpurkhas. Children also participated in role plays which addressed important messages on social issues. They advocated for education for girls, the inclusion of women in electoral processes, gender equality, and good social and moral values among others.

“The role plays taught us that we should avoid bad habits and work toward progress,” said Gul, a fifth grade student.

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During April 2014, workshops which outlined the concepts of human rights and democracy were organized for sixty-five students from the University of Punjab and the University of Agriculture Faisalabad. Through the workshop, students also became aware of the social, legal, and political discrimination faced by religious minorities in Pakistan. This opportunity is the result of CWS-P/A forming working relationships with three institutions of higher learning.

Due to the positive response of the university faculties at the University of Central Punjab, the University of Sindh, and the University of Punjab, CWS-P/A was able to sign memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with these esteemed universities. These universities all share a dedication to educating and supporting young people to become strong critical thinkers, leaders, and ambassadors of peace and unity.  In partnership with these institutions, CWS-P/A looks forward to engaging one of the country’s most valuable resources, its young people, to work toward eliminating the discrimination against religious minority groups and to promote a peaceful and prosperous society.

The students participated actively and enthusiastically in the discussions and activities, and demonstrated strong beliefs, knowledge, and understanding from a variety of perspectives as well as expressive, skilled, and respectful dialogue. Throughout both sessions, the students consistently exhibited sincere and committed political engagement and concern for the future and well-being of Pakistan.