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Today on World Humanitarian Day, we express strong solidarity with the selfless aid workers and civilians who are caught in conflicts and natural hazard emergencies. 2017 aims to reaffirm that the civilians, aid workers and social workers caught in conflict are #NotATarget.

We, at Community World Service Asia, salute the humanitarian workers and communities who strive to help people and work towards upholding human rights and human dignity.

The success of rural development depends upon the willingness and active participation of the local community in the development process. To ensure such participation, NGOs carry out extensive social mobilization activities within communities to raise awareness on sensitive issues. Social Mobilization is a cornerstone for participatory approach in rural development and poverty alleviation programs as it aims to create a sense of ownership amongst the people by involving them directly in the decision making process. Acknowledging the strong need and importance of social mobilization, the Capacity Institutionalization Team at Community World Service Asia held a five-day residential workshop on Social Mobilization this July in its’ hill-station training center in Murree. This training was offered to community mobilizers, social organizers and staff members of mid to small NGOs.

Twenty-five participants from different religious backgrounds belonging to interior Sindh, Punjab and KPK provinces attended the five-day workshop. The participants came in with the expectation to raise unanswered questions and provide their input on Social Mobilization and its methods, as a part of the learning process. Techniques on effective leadership skills, communication skills, social analysis, problem analysis were taught through plenary sessions, individual readings, group discussions, group presentations, role-plays, energizers, presentations, and video clips. This learning opportunity provided the participants with crucial tools to recognize issues within a society and how to effectively address them. Muhammad Bilal, a participant said, ‘this training has given us a lot of knowledge regarding community development/participation and how to effectively use tools to successfully implement our project goals and activities.’

Syed Moazzam Ali, the trainer for the event, with an extensive experience of conducting trainings with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), government institutions, communities and educational institutions across Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh ensured that the training remained as interactive and participatory as possible. Moazzam has been associated with leading Rights-based organizations such as Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and Amnesty International.

The main focus of the training being “social mobilization”, it included in depth session on the definition of a community and qualities of a good mobilizer, tiers of social mobilization, problem analysis and social analysis. In addition, there were many subtopics under the broader category such as, “development”, which included definition and types of development and philosophy and approaches to participatory development. Another underlying topic was “cross cutting themes,” including concepts on caring about the vulnerable in the process of social mobilization and the role of suppressed minority groups such as women, children, people with HIV/Aids, trans-gender and disabled.  The participants felt that this was an excellent choice of topics as one participant Shazia Lal stated, ‘I had no idea what is social/community mobilization but specially learning and attending this workshop has deepened my knowledge and learning.’ Overall, the training has shown positive results, with 92% of the participants claiming that their expectations from the training were met. In addition, the post-test scores showed a 70% improvement in topic based knowledge compared to the pre-tests.

At the last session of the workshop, all participants were awarded certificates for successfully completing the five-day training; this also formally closed the training. In addition, Mr. Moazzam thanked Community World Service Asia for organizing this training, and gave his contact details to the participants for any follow-up questions on the workshop to ensure its sustainability.

Nazmeen, one of the participants, reflected, “After coming here, I realized that the concepts we are learning are very important for constructing our society.  It has shown me how I should live in a society and how to support others. Furthermore, the things we take for granted and sometimes ignore actually end up being harmful for the society. Alone we are nothing, we have strength in numbers and that support from people is what constructs a good society. This is what I have learned from this training. I am fully equipped with the basic principles of developing a society, and what our responsibilities are in building such a society.”

Participant Views

  • “It was my first residential training on social mobilization. I had a wonderful and useful learning experience. The training environment was comfortable with no fear of learning or questioning. I found this training different in two aspects; one, the language was easy and secondly, there was a use of variety of activities with a humble attitude by the facilitator. Though I liked all sessions but mostly I liked social mapping exercise while visiting field in Murree. We worked in groups on different tools. Furthermore the linkages with the networks we work with will strengthen by applying the tools of social mobilization we studied in thetraining,” shared Jennifer Joseph, CSC-Christian Study Center Rawalpindi.

  • “I have 15 years of work experience in Social Mobilization but I was not aware of the tools and proper methods of social mobilization. Coming to this training has taught me these. I have realized that change comes from within a person and when I go back I will conduct two days training with my team to further my learnings. The learning was effectives due to the humble and friendly attitude of the facilitator. I suggest that grass-root level organizations should be invited because they require capacity building and an opportunity to grow,” expressed Yasmeen Khkwani, Savail Welfare Society Multan

Community world Service Asia’s livelihoods and women empowerment project, supported by YCARE and UKAID, in Umerkot district has initiated its third year this April. The activities under the project aim to empower local women with a sustainable increase in their household income through enhancing their handicrafts skills and connecting them with markets, among the many other components of the project. This year, three hundred new artisans have been selected from nine new villages in Union Council Karroo Syed and Sabo this year.

A six months training was designed in two phases, each of three months, on Skill enhancement and Product Development with the expertise of designers from Indus Valley School of Arts and Architecture (IVS) Karachi.

The designer identified six main stitches for skill development, namely Kacho, Pako, Muko, Chain, Kharak and Hurmuch. During the first three months of the training, stitching and embroidery skills of local artisans’ part of the Women Enterprise Groups (WEGs)[1], were enhanced. The skill building mainly focused on building upon the traditional skills that these women already had but in more accordance to latest fashion trends and market demand, which were lacking in their previous home-made products. These skill enhancement classes were organized by Community liaison officers (CLOs) and mentored by Enterprise Development Officers (EDOs) of Community World Service Asia.

In addition, artisans were also taught the value addition of using the right color combinations, designing and cuts and quality control- all aspects which are pivotal to the urban buyers. For budgeting, pricing and dealing with customers, the artisans were given a three months training on adult Literacy courses which enabled them to read, write and compute during their business dealings.

The determined women from Umerkot are currently practicing their newly acquired skills by working on test products using modern designs and fashionable color schemes. This will particularly allow artisans to improve their quality of work and design which will increase the value and exclusivity of their handmade products.

[1] Women Enterprise Group is group formed of rural artisans, producing hand-made products, in the vocational centers established in various villages of Umerkot.

Akhtawar, is a 19 year old artisan who dreams to become a professional handicrafts manufacturer. Belonging to Raeem Dino Thaeem village in Thatta, Akhtawar lives in a joint family system, with eighteen members living in one house. Five of them her own siblings.

My elder brother is a teacher at a private school located in Bello City. He earns PKR 1500 (US $ 15 approx.) a month. He is also a member of the Gender-based violence (GBV) and Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) theater groups formed in our village. He earns  PKR 1500 per day for his performances. Our father is an agricultural farmer, harvesting crops including wheat and rice. He owns the land but buys seeds on loan as he cannot afford to buy them. This way the loan is returned in the form of harvested crops. Most of the harvest is given to the seeds seller in order to repay the loan.

Community World Service Asia’s and Christian Aid’s livelihoods project came to Raeem Dino Thaeem village with an aim to empower the local women and assist them in earning a better living by enhancing their inborn skills of stitching and embroidery. To initiate the project, an assessment test was conducted to select artisans for the vocational trainings. Many women from the local villages took the tests to be selected. Akhtawar was amongst those who passed the assessment test and was selected as a participating artisan under the enhancing livelihoods project in Thatta.

The three month Adult Literacy Training enlightened many uneducated women in the village. I passed my matriculation but some women at the centre had never received any schooling since their families could not afford it . They could barely afford their household and medical expenses. The literacy training enabled the artisans to learn basic Mathematics, English and Urdu. Many of the artisans wrote their names for the first time in English. My aunt also received the literacy training and she used the learning to teach her own school going children at home. I also teach my younger brother and sisters. I even teach my mother who learns as eagerly as my siblings. My uncle was so pleased to see how well we read and understand the course books.

Before the trainings, Akhtawar stitched clothes at home without the use of any sewing tools.

It was at the skill development training that we learnt to use sewing tools. We usually measured the clothes directly on the body and cut accordingly. Therefore the fitting of the clothes was never accurate. We learnt to use measuring tapes at the skill development training at the center. The quality of my stitching and apparel fitting improved immensely. On the other hand, we learnt new designs and threadwork which enhanced our embroidery skills bringing variety to our work and increasing its value.

Akhtawar has received many personal orders from neighbours and other residents of nearby villages since she graduated from the training centre. Young and determined Akhtawar has already worked on completing orders for some of Pakistan’s famed fashion designers such as Shayan, Imrana from Indus Valley Schools of Arts and Architecture (IVS), Habitt, Najia and Nida Azwer.

I have earned an estimate amount of PKR 8000. My mother is ill and requires medicines at all times. After some tests, the doctor told us that my mother’s brain is weak and prescribed some medicines. The expense of travelling to the hospital in Tando Allah Yar and tests were all borne by me. This made me very emotional as I never thought I would ever be able to help my family this way. In addition, I also paid the admission fees of PKR 1000 for my brother’s English Language course for which he travels to Bello City. I also contribute to his monthly school fees which of PKR 500.

According to Akhtawar, the input and participation of women in their village has mostly been limited to their homes. The only way they sometimes contributed was through farming which is exhausting  during the scorching sun in the day. T

he crops we harvested or the money earned through the sale of the crops was mostly paid off in loans, so very little was saved for the family to use. The vocational center enabled me to contribute to my family of eighteen members. I proudly contribute in the household, education and medical expenses and my parents and siblings are pleased with my growth and financial independence.

Akhtawar’s elder brother and sister, Rahim and Bakhtawar, are members of a theater group as well which performs to raise awareness on issues of SRH/GBV.

Initially my father did not support the idea, but when he attended some performances and witnessed the change in the rigid minds of many villagers, he too supported my siblings in their work.

Many men in these communities are conservative but many have gradually started engaging and participating in the theatre plays as performers and spectators.

I watched the first theater performance in November last year when the group performed in our village. The men in the village were surprised to know how young girls’ health are badly affected by child marriages. They were not aware of the health and mental issues a young girl goes through when married early. I was astonished to see the change in men when they refused to marry their young daughters after watching these plays. Today, many encourage their daughters to join schools or vocational centers in order to build a better future for themselves. In addition, mothers’ consent started being taken before entertaining  marriage proposals for their daughters.

Both of Akhtawar’s parents fully support their children in actively participating  in activities that are helping to bring positive changes in their community and society. Akhtawar shared that girls in her village did not travel faraway places for any reason.

My father permitted Rahim and Bakhtawar to attend the SRH/GBV training in Hyderabad for 10 days. He encouraged them to bring back knowledge and new learnings which will enlighten the conservative minds of the villagers.

Ali Hassan (Akhtawar’s father has been supportive towards bringing positive change as he believes in educating people who have not been fortunate enough to gain such opportunities.

Life has changed a lot since our involvement in the livelihood project. I work as an artisan and my brother and sister are part of the theater group. We also travel to attend trainings whenever we get an opportunity. This initiative has given a new meaning to our lives. Girls were caretakers of their home and this was the concept we were living by. But after theater performances and women working in the vocational centera, women have realized that, like men, they can also earn and support their families, and live a better life. Women can also go out in the world and explore opportunities to have a better future for them and their children,’

openly expressed Akhtawar.

 

A seminar promoting breastfeeding among local communities in rural Sindh was held during the World Breastfeeding week at the three Rural Health Centres, supported by Community World Service Asia and Act for Peace. A large number of community members consisting of women and men and government health department officials took part at the various sessions of the seminar at the RHCs in Hyderfarm, Nabisar and Dhoronaro. The seminar was facilitated and sessions were delivered by experienced Medical Superintendents (MSs) and Community World Service Asia health team on the importance and benefits of breastfeeding. This was organized to encourage more and more women to breastfeed for longer periods and to not consider it a taboo.

Key points highlighted at the seminar were:

  • WHO recommend that babies are exclusively breastfed for 6 months and solid foods are started after that, along with continuing breastfeeding for two years and longer
  • Breastfeeding provides the ideal amount of nutrition for infants. It is a perfect combination of vitamins, protein and fat – everything that the baby needs for a healthy development
  • Breast milk consists of antibodies that help babies fight viruses and bacteria
  • Babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months without being given any formula milk are less prone to infections and illnesses
  • Breast milk is easily digestible and is also known to be a contributing factor towards higher IQ scores later in childhood
  • Breastfed babies are considered to have a healthy weight with less chances of obesity later on
  • Breastfeeding also helps the mother to lose pregnancy weight faster

Every year on 12 August, the world celebrates International Youth Day. The annual occasion – spearheaded by the UN – celebrates young people and raises awareness about issues that affect them. There is a growing recognition that as agents of change, young people are critical actors in conflict prevention and sustaining peace. Young people like Ghulam Ali Asghar, are contributing their efforts to make social justice and sustainable peace popular.

Ghulam Ali Asghar Bhutto is a twenty-three year old student of the Department of International Relations at the University of Sindh in Jamshoro.  Social change in his view is a need which must become a reality now. According to Ali Asghar, the youth are the most affected by ground level social issues in a society.

“Social change has become a dire need for us. The youth’s role is important in reshaping the society as their future depends on it. Essential modifications are required in increasing liberal values and towards lowering the levels of religious extremism. We should mend the wrong doings which are occurring in the society today and correct ourselves where we were taught wrong.”

“Discrimination separates people on the basis of ethics, religion, race or even gender in many cases,”

added Ali certainly.

“Though existing in our society for so long, discrimination cannot be justifiable. It has always created negative differences amongst people and have been a cause of many fights in history. I want to admit here that I was wrong in many instances when I discriminated against my classmates on the basis of religion.  Being more aware of the teachings of other religions and of democratic and human rights, I have realized that I was wrong in doing so as people of faiths other than Islam have as much a right of living a free life as anyone else, anywhere,”

expressed Ali positively.

According to Ali, leadership roles allow youth the opportunity to be in positions of influence and develop skills.

“Youth leadership opportunities are often overlooked, either knowingly or unknowingly, but the results are the same; a lost opportunity for young people to take the lead. I believe that youth leadership is pivotal as tomorrow we will be the ones in positions of power, such as politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers or parliamentarians, having a direct effect on our society.”

Ali conducted introductory sessions on “Youth and Social Change” in various departments of his university. He disseminated handouts among his fellow school mates on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Good Governance, Democracy and Peace.

“All the students were amazed to know about the rights they have been granted nationally and internationally. The professors at the university appreciated our initiative and encouraged other students to share such information they believe is beneficial for all.”

Ali, along with some of his friends, conducted a seminar on Youth’s Role in Social Change in a church hall in Hyderabad on the 18th of May.

“As it was a church, all the communities, namely Christian, Hindu and Muslims from different sects helped in the preparation process. All of us organizers were divided into different groups; including the facilitation group, which gave presentations on Discrimination, Human Rights and Youth Leadership, while the theatre group performed a play highlighting the flaws in the society and how to combat them together. People from the various communities and students from different institutions attended the event and appreciated our efforts for organizing such an impactful event which delivered strong messages of peace and interfaith harmony.”

Ali, with his peers, Irteza Jamil, Tanveer Ahmed and Mohammad Adeel, conducted additional sessions on Human Rights, Youth Leadership and Good Governance at the Askari English Learning Centre and Mehran Academy in Karachi. He disseminated the handouts at these sessions as well.

Young people’s inclusion is key to sustaining and building peace in societies and civilizations. The youth is leading change, and International Youth Day celebrates their ability, skill, motivation and recognition in continuing to do so.

An FM radio campaign on monsoon preparedness has been initiated on FM 92 by Community World Service Asia considering the Monsoon outlook issued by the Pakistan Meteorological Department. Community World Service Asia is executing this campaign with the support of Christian Aid and in close coordination with the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), Sindh. The radio messages are aired six times a day and reaches 12.2 million people in twelve districts of Sindh.

This radio campaign has been appreciated and acknowledged by the Director General, PDMA.

Click here to listen

Heena, a Grade 3 teacher at the Abdurahman Pazhwak Girls High School, one of the participating schools under the Girls Education Project in Nangarhar, Afghanistan,  has been teaching using traditional methodologies such as lectures and rote learning.

“My students were scared of me; they were scared to ask me questions and I could sense that they felt my behaviour towards them was very strict. But I knew no other way of behaving around them to maintain discipline in class. This was the only technique I knew of to make them learn, and achieve good results. However, things did not remain the same for long,”

affirmed Heena.

“One day, I got the opportunity to attend a Teachers Training on developing our pedagogical skills organized by Community World Service Asia. The training was an eye opener for me. There were topics that I had never heard of before; such as Morning Meetings, Child-Centred Classrooms and Interactive methodologies of learning consisting of group works, role plays and developing low cost/no cost teaching aids.”

The training completely changed Heena’s teaching style and her attitude towards students.

“After attending the training, I entered the class with a new frame of mind. I began to apply my learnings; I greeted students with a smile, conducted morning meetings, shared interesting news and announcements with them, encouraged an exchange of personal stories and small gifts. I also organized role plays and delegated group assignments to them. I not only used no cost/low cost materials in class, but actually involved my students in making these materials with me.”

An environment of healthy competition was introduced by Heena amongst her students, which was often followed by appreciation for students who made greater efforts in class. This change in behaviour helped with positive reinforcement in her class, and even the back benchers began to take greater interest in studying.

“My students were very happy and surprised with the new approaches and my changed behaviour. I had become much more humble, polite and friendly.”

This not only improved the learning aptitude of students, but also helped them in increasing their confidence and knowledge. Students began to take more interest in attending classes regularly, and shared interesting learnings from school with their families and communities.

“It increased the enrolment and new admissions in our school as well,”

informed Heena.

An interschool competition was held at the Conference Hall of Education Directorate in Nangarhar Province. It was a skill-based competition where four schools competed on the knowledge test of four subjects, namely Mathematics, Islamic, Science and Languages. The Judges’ committee included noted individuals such as Mohammad Usman Langarkhel and Lailuma Wali, who are members of the Parliament.

“The process of judgment was very transparent, and my students were declared winners of the competition. They were awarded gifts and cash prizes as well. The change in my style of teaching had truly shown positive results. My students were shining the brightest at the event. It was a day of celebration for all of us as our combined hard work and struggle had paid off!”

Participants of kitchen gardening gathered to learn the process of Clay Pitcher Technique.

Community World Service Asia, with the support of Canadian Foodgrains Bank and PWS & D, is implementing a three year project on Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture to support flood and drought affected families in two Union Councils of District Badin in Sindh, Pakistan. Kitchen gardening is among the main components of the project.

The current summer cropping season is faced with severe water shortage in the Sindh province. This  has not only reduced major crop yields but has also limited vegetable sowing in home-based kitchen gardens which almost hundred percent of the flood affected families relied on during the last cropping season. Considering this year’s water shortage and predicted water scarcity which is due to the impact of climate changes in the area, this season, Community World Service Asia’s project team is training targeted farmer families in Kitchen Gardening through introducing the Clay Pitcher Technology. With using this method, farmers will be able to grow vegetables even with limited water.

The Clay pitcher technology is a simple, low-cost solution for dryland farming which involves the usage of wasted, scratched or broken clay pots placed at home. Unglazed clay pots with a capacity of seven to ten litres and with a conical body and narrow neck, are buried approximately one meter apart in the ground, with the mouth of the pot exposed. Vegetables are then planted around each pot which is filled with water after every four to seven days. Water percolation from the pot moisturizes the surrounding soil to make bed with enough moisture that can help produce healthy vegetables.

Along with being inexpensive, the Clay pitcher irrigation technology is very simple to follow ensuring  farmers sustainability, food diversification and an increase in nutrition levels at farming homes even in worse water scarcity conditions. Abdul Sattar, a farmer from Abbas Thabo village, shares,

“the clay pitcher techniques is innovative and cost effective which effectively addresses the water scarcity issue in kitchen gardening for us.”

In another village, Muhammad Bux Diwani, Bachaln Bibi, a house-wife and kitchen gardener, shared,

“This technique has aided in mobilizing our available waste materials in areas where we experience water shortage to ensure a productive growth of vegetables in our gardens throughout the year.”

Group photo of all participants of the Disaster Preparedness and Contingency Planning Training Course.

Considering the susceptibility of the Sujawal District in Sindh, Pakistan, to natural and anthropogenic disasters, a lot of work still needs to be done to promote and streamline disaster risk reduction (DRR) approaches and activities among the local communities. Contingency planning in the wake of natural disasters in this newly established districts needs to be developed and improved.

To make the communities of Sujawal, and other disaster prone areas of Pakistan, more resilient to onset, recurrent disasters Community World Service Asia conducted a four-day training on Emergency Preparedness and Contingency Planning in Murree. The training held in June, was participated by nineteen representatives from line Departments of Sujawal, Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) Sindh, Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) KPK, National Disaster Management Authority Pakistan (NDMA) and Health and Education Departments.

The training aimed to enhance the skills and capacities of government staff in responding effectively pre, post and during emergencies (disasters) and to prepare the communities for such situations with effective and immediate contingency planning. The key agenda of the training aimed  to equip local authorities, who are focal points in their respective regions, to be well prepared for and respond to disasters, and mitigate its’ damages, efficiently and promptly. The training enabled the organizations and their staff to review their existing plans and make improvements where required.  It provided an opportunity to provincial institutions to share information and best practices among each other to promote mutual learning and extend cooperation.  The lead facilitator, Falak Nawaz, from Network of Disaster Management Practitioners (NDMP), explained the  project objectives and the process involved to ensure implementation of activities and plans. He encouraged participants to be proactive and raise questions during the training and urged them to exhibit ownership to make such workshops successful at district levels.

The standard terms and concepts developed by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) were introduced in the session on “Basic concepts and terminologies using in Disaster management”. These were taught through a group activity using charts and pictures of a Disaster Risk Management (DRM) cycle. The participants were oriented on global, regional and national environments of disaster risk situations. A historical timeline of past disasters and its impacts on local, regional and global levels were briefly explained. Examples of The Greatest Eastern Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, 2011, were cited and discussed.

A detailed session on contingency planning was conducted. The participants were briefed on the importance and uses of contingency planning and its differences to disaster risk management planning.

Towards the end of the training, a formal closing ceremony, which was chaired by Director Operations, PDMA Sindh was held at which all participants were awarded certificates. The DO appreciated the efforts made by Community World Service Asia towards disseminating knowledge and skills amongst government officials of PDMA’s, NDMA, academia and district administration of Sujawal and urged the participants to take lead in disaster management activities at local levels through close coordination among each other and the communities.