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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.

Theatre has always been an art form which is extremely effective in inspiring and uniting communities by engaging audiences through entertaining and thought-provoking performances and dialogues. Through this interactive form of entertainment, awareness on social issues is raised and possible solutions to prevailing problems are sought. Recognizing the strong impact of this artistic medium, the Capacity Institutionalization Team at Community World Service Asia held a seven-day residential workshop titled, Theater for Development this June in a hill-station training centre in Murree.

The workshop was attended by twenty-three participants from parts of Sindh and Punjab and aimed at building the capacity of these participants, closely working with local, vulnerable communities to build awareness on social issues through theatre.  Techniques on effective theatre plays for social advocacy were taught at the training while also providing participants a multidimensional experience of learning through theory analysis and behavior study of different age groups. This learning opportunity enabled them to explore the fundamentals of theatre, art of creating stories, improvisation with groups and how to inculcate issue based content into an effective theatre performance.

Sarfraz Ansar, Actor, Director and Vocalist, with a vast experience of 25 years and having conducted over a thousand theatre performances at national and international levels was the lead facilitator at the training.  While, Idrees Ali Khan, theater performer, puppet maker and cultural activist for the last thirty years was the co facilitator. Idrees Ali has an expertise of directing more than a hundred plays on social issues in partnership with leading civil society organizations. Both the facilitators were from Azad theater Pakistan.

The training contents were developed around three major themes; Essentials and Fundamentals for Theater – this theme included various components namely body language, communication, expression, rhythm, emotions, images, and trust building; the  second theme, Theatre Development, included a history of theatre, script writing, storytelling, improvisation for the street, challenges and opportunities and theatre techniques; while the final theme focused on production and performance with an emphasis on the importance of costumes, lighting, sets and  back stage design.

At the workshop closing session, Liaqat Ali Tameemi, Executive Coordinator of Doaba Foundation participated as the chief guest to distribute Awards and certificates among workshop participants and formally closed the training. He thanked and acknowledged the efforts of Community World Service Asia and the Azad Theatre Pakistan and stressed on a need for a follow up of this workshop to ensure its sustainability.

  • Tahira Azam, Doaba Foundation

    “We, the Doaba team, are very satisfied with the training, learning and especially with the quality of lesson delivery of resource persons. We see this learning as a great skill and we will use learnt techniques in our community work.

    We request Community World Service Asia to extend follow up support to us in its implementation at community level especially with young children as Doaba planned to establish children clubs to impart health and hygiene awareness in villages.”

  • Zulfiqar Ahmed, Deutsche Welthungerhilfe

    “This training increased my understanding of theatre and its role in communication and advocacy. It helped me to understand possible effectiveness of using theatre tools in our awareness raising on food and nutrition related problems in targeted communities under projects. I feel happy and confident after learning new theatre techniques.”

  • Shamim Munir Khan , Doaba Foundation

    “This training has increased my confidence. I have learnt various theatre tools such as script writing, activism, rhythm, communication and other techniques.”

  • Tasneem Bashir, Doaba Foundation

    I have learnt a lot from this training about tools of theatre play. It inspired me to learn advance techniques of Production, Direction, Acting, Script Writing and Puppet Show in future. It would be great if Community World Service Asia help us in providing specialized trainings like these.”

  • Islam, Indus Theatre Development Organization- Khairpur Mirs

    “I learnt basic techniques of practicing theatre for development. The training contents were need based, relevant and beneficial for a theatre activist. Physical and mental exercised executed in training have sharpen our imagination, observation and improved body knowledge.”

Photo credit: www.dawn.com

The ongoing monsoon rains in Pakistan have claimed at least fifty-one human lives so far, with fifty-eight people reportedly injured and sixty-seven houses partially or completely destroyed.

Baluchistan province has been the most affected in terms of human loss where seventeen people have been killed since the start of monsoon rains, followed by Punjab, where 14 people have died so far.

Province
Deaths
Injured
Houses Damaged
Punjab
14
32
1
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
9
4
12
Sindh
6
17
5
Baluchistan
17
0
20
Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK)
1
1
29
Gilgit Baltistan)
4
4
0
Total
51
58
67

A series of rains and thunderstorms are expected to hit isolated areas of Sindh, Islamabad, eastern Baluchistan, upper Punjab, upper Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Bahawalpur, D.G. Khan divisions, Kashmir, FATA and Gilgit-Baltistan during the day today.

Response by Community World Service Asia: Community World Service Asia is gathering information from different sources including Government departments and local partners in the affected areas and will devise its response plan accordingly.

Contacts:

Contacts:
Dennis Joseph
Associate Director – Disaster Management Program
Email: dennis.joseph@communityworldservice.asia
Cell: +92 300 855 7414

Palwashay Arbab
Head of Communications
Email: Palwashay.arbab@communityworldservice.asia
Tel: +92 42 3586 5338

Sources:
www.ndma.gov.pk
www.dawn.com
www.samaa.tv

photo credit: https://www.samaa.tv

Monsoon rains have made its onset in Pakistan started Monday, June 26, 2017 and since then different parts of the country have received precipitation with intervals. Karachi and Hub are the most affected areas where flooding and electrocution has claimed seventeen human lives. Five persons were electrocuted in different parts of Karachi city and two children drowned in a pond, while nine people including two children died due to heavy rains in Hub and Lasbela areas of Baluchistan. Flash floods have also swept away several houses in Hub, Baluchistan.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and Gilgit Baltistan intermittent rain was witnessed in various regions, out of which Chitral, Lower Dir, Bajaur, Shangla and Upper Dir saw minimal rain while Attar Pak saw received the heaviest spell. One boy lost his life in Chitral in rain related incidents.

Rain-thundershowers with gusty winds may occur at scattered places of Hyderabad, Karachi, Mirpurkhas, Tharparkar, Shaheed Benazirabad division, and at isolated places of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Lahore, Malakand, Hazara, Kohat, Bannu, D I Khan, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

There is risk of landslides in hilly areas of upper Khyber-Pakhtukhwa, Malakand, Hazara, Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir.

Community World Service Asia Response: Community World Service Asia will monitor the situation and will try to get updated information from different stakeholders. Its emergency response teams are ready and will be deputed immediately if the need to respond to the crisis arise.

Contacts:

Dennis Joseph
Associate Director – Disaster Management Program
Email: dennis.joseph@communityworldservice.asia
Cell: +92 300 855 7414

Palwashay Arbab
Head of Communications
Email: palwashay.arbab@communityworldservice.asia
Tel: +92 42 3586 5338

Sources:
www.samaa.tv
www.tribune.com.pk
www.dawn.com

A Cold Winter – Making winter warm for Nowroze and his family 

“I’ve met so many who have lost so much. But they never lose their dreams for their children or their desire to better our world. They ask for little in return – only our support in their time of greatest need”UN Secretary-General, António Guterres

June 20th is World Refugee Day. This day is marked to support millions of families all over the world who have lost their homes and dear ones because of violence, natural disasters or war. World refugee day provides an opportunity to the global community to help refugees worldwide in rebuilding their lives and achieving some sort of normalcy in their everyday living. This day is celebrated to increase awareness on the challenges, resilience and real life stories of refugees to among people.

Pakistan has been home to large influx of refugees since its very existence in 1947. First their were migrants from the newly divided subcontinent. Then in 1990s a new wave of settlers came into Pakistan from Afghanistan. They have since then lived life as refugees in Pakistan. Recently, as part of national policy, the Afghan refugees were asked to repatriate back to their homeland.

Afghan refugees in Pakistan have been supported with many forms of lifesaving assistance, safety and protection by the government agencies and aid organizations for many decades. They have been provided tents, shelter, kitchen took kits, home-kits, beddings and also provided with livelihood opportunities. The goal of celebrating this event is increasing public awareness among common public by sharing the related refugee stories.

Nowroze Khan, son of Toor Khan, is an Afghan refugee who lived in Peshawar, Pakistan for twenty years. He started his family there and worked on daily wages (from PKR 400- 500 per day) on and off to support his family of seven. Difficult to meet all the needs of his family with the limited income, life however remained peaceful and comfortable for them. In September last year, Nowroze and his family were repatriated to Afghanistan – a homeland still in conflict and left in rubbles. Upon their return, the family lived in an old tent in Gamberie Refugee Camp, Qarghaie District in Laghman Province.

On an unfortunate December night (December 12th) last year, Nowroze Khan lost the little that him and his owned in a fierce fire that engulfed their shelter. With all his belongings gone and the only PKR 27,000 that he had saved over the year, Nowroze was left homeless and destitute in his very own country once again.

“I cried out to the villagers to save my burning house but it was too late,”

narrated Nowroze sadly.

“The fire spread very fast and my wife and I only managed to save our children in the given time.”

Resources and infrastructure at the Gamberie Camp, which is no less than a dessert, are limited for returnees like Nowroze Khan. No proper mechanism was present to combat such unexpected incidents. Our neighbors in the village, whom we had been acquainted with in the few months since our return, were generous and provided us with whatever food, clothes and blankets that they could afford. That support could not go on for long either since they themselves were living in poor conditions.

“After a few weeks and for going around the villages seeking help, I came across a needs assessment team and was selected as a beneficiary under the emergency response for Returnees project supported by Community World Service Asia. I received a tent, two blankets and a two rounds of cash grants. We purchased essential food items including vegetables, oil, flour, tea and pulses with the money we received.  We also availed health services at the Gamberie Camp, when my children got ill.”

In addition, Nowroze Khan received a shelter and blankets at the Gamberie camp as part of the assistance by Community World Service Asia. The winter was harsh, and his family needed all the protection they could from the freezing winds and the snow.

Nowroze is now living in a shelter with his six children and wife at the Gamberie camp among many other returnees. These are Afghanis living a life of refugees in their own homeland. Many of them are in need of homes, health care, livelihoods and education.

Refugees are true survivors – they must be given the necessary support for them to recover from their loss, rebuild their life to its full capacity and up to international human rights standards.