Stories

Madina, 17, belongs to Nangarhar province, Afghanistan. A student of grade 11, she studies in Sayedan-e-Arabi Girls High school located in Surkhroad District. The first girl of her family to be enrolled in school, Madina has had to fight the mindset that girls who engage in social and political activities have a questionable character.

“It was believed that education is not good for girls and that they should not attend any gatherings where men are present; nowadays it is much better as parents are now in favour of education for girls.”

She further adds that cultural barriers faced by women such as insecurity, early marriages and forced marriages, become obstacles to women’s development.
Madina found her perceptions change when she attended a Civic Education Camp (Summer camp) in a three-day training organized by Community World Service Asia Education Camp in Charbagh-e-Safa GHS.

“I learned about human rights, child rights, gender equality, leadership, democratic government and election processes, which encouraged me to think differently and to take part socially and politically in civil society as soon as I complete my education.”

Madina has been passing on her knowledge to her brothers, sisters as well as her parents. Even though it was a slow and difficult task, her parents have started to acknowledge that men and women have their own roles and responsibilities in society. Now I get really excited whenever my father says,

“Madina is one of the most intelligent girls in our family and I am proud of her.”

 

With support from the Danish Center for Culture and Development, Community World Service Asia is bringing together rural artisans from Thatta and Umerkot in Sindh, and design students from Karachi.  Through their collaboration, traditional skills will be combined with marketable designs, enabling these women to connect to the urban market and earn a sustainable income from their craft.  This month, students from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVS) and the Textile Institute of Pakistan (TIP) visited Umerkot and Thatta respectively, in order to meet the artisans with whom they will be working, and gain some insight into their way of life and conditions of work.

Ameer khan, 39, migrated from Kalam to Swat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, around three years ago where he was living in a rented house of two rooms, a kitchen and bathroom. To support his family of ten including his mother, wife, six daughters, a son and a disabled father-in-law, Ameer khan sold peanuts on a cart in the market during winter. In the warmer months, he used the same cart to sell local cold drinks. Although with a daily wage of PKR 400/, Khan was not making enough to cover all of his household expenses, he was still able to manage somehow.

Khan’s struggles were amplified in the aftermath of an earthquake that hit Swat along with other areas of Northern Pakistan on October 26, 2015. While one room and a boundary wall were completely damaged, the other room was partially broken thus becoming unlivable. Khan was left with no choice but to shift his family to a neighbor’s home for a few days. Due to limited space, however, he had to bring them back to his own house where the only undamaged space, to live in, was the kitchen. To accommodate everyone in a single room, Khan had to sleep under the open sky during freezing winter nights.

“Ameer and his family have suffered a lot due to this earthquake and despite the damage to his house, he has not been included in the government’s earthquake survivor’s compensation list for reconstruction,”

says Jamil Ahmad, Kisan councilor, local government representative of district Swat.

“We tried our best to include him but unfortunately our efforts were futile as the list had been finalized and could not accommodate more people,” he added.

Among the more urgent needs of the communities, winterization support tops the list of most prioritized needs. Having identified the urgency of providing relief to earthquake-affected communities, Community World Service Asia, has thus far, provided support to 504 families through the funding support of UMCOR in the area.

Ameer Khan was also among the selected right holders for the winterization support assistance.

“I am very thankful to Community World Service Asia for helping me in catering to the most urgent needs of my family. With this support, at least we have something to cover ourselves with during this extreme weather”,

he said.

 

 

Community World Service Asia organized a three-day training for University of Peshawar from January 26 – 28, 2016 and for University of Punjab on 5- 7 February 2016 on “Introduction to NGOs”. 23 students from the BS Social Work program participated in the event in Peshawar and 28 students from the M. SC Social Work participated in the event in Lahore.

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Community World Service Asia has been working to promote education for girls in the rural Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan since June 2013.  In Nangarhar, like most of the country, the legacy of the Taliban combined with poverty, cultural norms, weak educational infrastructure and the challenging terrain present serious hurdles to access to education, especially for girls.

In order for us to be able to support girls in Nangarhar to realize their right to quality education, we work extensively with school faculty and teachers.  Educational professionals in Afghanistan face serious challenges such as insufficient training, under-resourced schools and overcrowded classrooms.  For women, socio-cultural constraints make it extremely difficult to work as a teacher.  Shahida Zaheer is an inspirational woman who has faced numerous struggles in her journey to becoming the Principal of Charbagh-e-Safa Girls’ High School and in making the attainment of education accessible for all.

Shahida explains that education was seen as a burden not just by the society but by students as well. The school only had one teacher who was responsible for teaching the whole student body. The school was not able to provide a good learning environment, as it not only lacked a supportive faculty and a set curriculum but where sports and other extra-curricular activities were not organized. Students were forced to attend school on the insistence of their parents and did so half-heartedly with poor learning outcomes.

Community World Service Asia has conducted training sessions for the school’s teachers and organized summer camps for the students as well as equipping the school with much-needed sports facilities. Because of the training programs, the teachers are more confident in their methods and use different approaches to make the learning process not only fruitful, but fun as well. The addition of a sports ground last year has further strengthened the students’ desire to attend the school. Along with learning in an engaging and stimulating environment, the students also get to play games of cricket and football. Shahida adds that that she is hopeful that their school sports team will soon be playing at the same level as teams from other schools, and will be able to participate in inter-school competitions.

Shahida talked about the role that the Shura (local decision-making and consultative group of influential community leaders) and Mula Imam (religious leader) have played in supporting the school. Because of external pressures and the prevailing view in society that education is not vital, many children were either not enrolled in school or were made to discontinue their studies. The Shura and the Mula Iman (who is also a prominent faculty member) have reinforced the importance of education, especially for girls, in the community, and the counsel of these respected figures has led to an increase in the number of the students enrolled. As some girls often get married before reaching the eleventh grade, they are often forced to leave school. However, with the intervention of the Shura and the Mula Imam, this statistic is also drastically improving with more girls continuing their education even after getting married.

Shahida is extremely proud of having gained the respect of the elders of the community. Even though she’s only thirty three years of age, she is successfully running the school and feels fully supported by the Shura, even commenting that her opinions hold more weight in their eyes than her male counterparts. Shahida believes that this is the true mark of the beginning of female empowerment in their area as women are now being given more concrete and responsible roles in society.

Although the school is now running smoothly, Shahida adds that there are still a few complications that are yet to be resolved. The school runs in two shifts  – male students come to the school in the second shift. Shahida feels that it is prudent to have segregation between the boys and girls as is dictated by their customs. She also stresses the urgent need for more equipment and material for the science courses being taught at the school. In addition, she feels the need for a more thorough training session for the teachers in subjects such as chemistry, biology and physics as those subjects are the ones that the students have the most difficulty in comprehending. Sanitation facilities are also needed for the school.

Shahida states that the women of Pakistan and Afghanistan should never underestimate their own worth.  “The women have made this school a functional and reputable institution,” she says. Shahida, who has brought about a wave of welcome change, believes that women can work in any field and excel at it.  Community World Service Asia looks forward to continuing its work with Shahida and her colleagues to ensure that the girls of Nangarhar have the opportunity to an education.

A sister holding her baby brother while waiting to see the doctor at the BHU in Kuzkhana

In response to the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck the Hindukish mountain range on October 26th this year, affecting thousands of people in northern Afghanistan and Pakistan, Community World Service Asia set up a mobile health unit in district Shangla.  The Mobile unit started its activities on October 30th and continued operation as a static Basic Health Unit in Kuzkana, Shangla, after two weeks and still operational.

In its thirty two days of activities till December 10th, the Health Unit days catered to 4090 earthquake affected community members in its Outpatient Department (OPD),of which 2271 patients were women and infants, and 1820 men and children.  A total of 1033 laboratory tests were conducted to diagnose illnesses among affected communities in the mobile Laboratory and BHU.

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Community World Service Asia conducted a six week residential training course on Proposal Writing in collaboration with Indus Consortium (IC). This course aimed to give participants the knowledge, techniques and tools used for writing winning project proposals, allowing participants to gain analytical and practical skills on project proposal writing. It was conducted at the locations Murree and Islamabad from September to November 2015.

The first part of the Proposal Writing course was held in Murree, and was attended by seventeen participants (13 Men & 4 Women). It entailed a variety of learning methodologies to address different learning styles through various interactive discussions, group work, case studies, quiet reflection and detailed lectures.  The course enhanced the knowledge of the staff members of IC partner organization on the topic of Project proposal writing and its implications on the effectiveness of project. At the start of the training a pre-test was conducted to gauge participants understanding upon the topic.

During the course the participants were divided into sub groups, which remained intact till the end of the training. However, temporary groups were made for completion of the given assignments. This combination of temporary and permanent groups allowed the participants to have more interaction and learn from each other to the maximum. Review of the previous day was an essential component of the training.

A salient feature of the training was that it demanded active participation of all participants, making the learning a two way process. All the participants were lead through proposal writing stages practically and made to play vital role in success of projects.

Essential and regular feature of the training was trainer’s evaluation by the participants. These exercises were aimed to judge the understanding level of participants and their needs, monitoring the sessions, maintaining a regular feedback and to gauge the level of learning taking place. A special effort was made to introduce new methods and tools of evaluation and warm up exercises (ice breakers and energizers) to keep the interest of the participants alive and to familiarize them to the maximum number of methods and tools.

The second part of this course was provision of technical support to all training participants.  In the first part four groups were formed to develop their proposals. In the second part they were provided with an opportunity to seek technical support from Resource Person Mr. Waqar Haider Awan. All groups finalized their proposals with the technical on-line consultation

A lessons learned event was conducted in Islamabad in 4th November 2015 to share their Proposal Writing experiences. Participants shared that gathering correct information for the proposals was a great challenge; however they relied upon data / information provided by the state department/s and authentic sources.  Developing LFA was another challenge which they overcome through online consultation and group coordination. The biggest lesson learned was working in groups as a team. The participants were able to identify five proposals which if submitted could land them further projects upon approval.

 

Mir Hussain, a twelve year old resident of village Sher Muhammad Hallo in Thatta distirct encountered a foot injury while working in the agricultural fields. He accidently injured himself with his crop cutting spade while at work.  Mir Hussain’s injured foot bled heavily and the pain he was suffering was excruciating.

“I could not see my son in pain and bleeding that much. I was very worried as my husband was at work at the time and there is no hospital near our village”, expressed the worried mother of Mir Hussain. The mother was soon told about a Mobile health team that was present in the area, upon advice from fellow villagers and members of the Village Health committee, she immediately took her son to the Community World Service Asia Mobile Health team where Dr. Mujahid Ali Shah examined  Mir Hussain’s injury. Dr. Mujahid attended to his wounds immediately, first cleaning the wound and then stopping the bleeding by pressing it with a gauze bandage. When the bleeding ceased, the injury was properly dressed and Mir Hussain was given an antibiotic and pain killer for further relief. Mir Hussain’s mother was instantly relieved of her worry and expressed gratitude to the doctor and the mobile health team.

Belonging to an underprivileged family, Mir Hussain shares a home with his eight siblings and parents. His father is a fisherman who goes fishing to the nearby lake on a daily basis.  In the summer of 2015, their house and village was severely affected by the floods that hit parts of Sindh.  “All the residents of our village were moved to safer areas when the flood was approaching. We were moved to embankments as well. No one has assisted the flood affected villages with medical aid since the floods hit us. Community World Service Asia is the only organization that came to our medical assistance. It will take us two to three months more to further settle back into our normal lives”, narrated Mir Hussain’s mother.

The Health unit established by Community World Service Asia in Thatta, has so far conducted 5,745 medical consultations. Two hundred and seventy Ante-Post Natal consultations have been delivered, while 148 hygiene sessions have been conducted. Two village health committees consisting of twenty four members have also been formed under the current project.

After completing training, participants receive an emergency kit, including a radio, a torch, a safe documents bag and a battery cell

This month, Community World Service Asia has conducted disaster risk reduction sessions for 150 men and women from six Community Organizations in the hazard-prone area of Thatta, Sindh province.  Community Based Disaster Risk Management trainings are conducted through our innovative Mobile Knowledge Resource Center, which engages community members in disaster preparedness skills.  These trainings are bringing vital knowledge to vulnerable communities, and empowering them to build their resilience:

“It was great and fruitful training for us because we never received any training about DRR by presenting simulation models, we never knew about our village’s vulnerabilities, historical hazards, evacuation and emergency equipment.”

  • Gul Hassan, member of Rahim Dino Thaheem Community Organization

“The early warning system is a very informative method to mitigate any future disaster.  It will help us with updates of natural disaster.  The phone number provided to us it will help us to remain in contact with government body and NGO. We never know before where we get updates.”

  • Yar Muhammad, member of Haji Talib Bijoro Community Organization

“I would like to thanks Community World Service Asia for coming here and conducted training especially for women, because we are neglected at any walk of life.  I learnt how to take safety measure in a fire disaster; I know about the reason of fire and how to keep away unused grass from kitchen surroundings.”

  • Ms Meemi Member, member of Basar Charan Community Organization

A workshop on “Introduction to NGOs” was held from 19th to 22nd October, 2015 at O’Spring Estate Murree, and was designed to enhance the knowledge of interested aid workers on the basic tools and techniques required to operate in the aid sector. The workshop was facilitated by our consultant trainer, Syed Moazam Ali and our in-house trainer, Arshad Hussain.

In Pakistan Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) play a vital role in providing indispensable services to diverse  communities across the country. Thorough planning during the initial process of setting up an organization is crucial to develop an effective and professional organization that is able to meet the myriad of challenges it may face in implementing its programs.

Small-scale civil society organizations (CSOs) and NGOs often recruit professionals who are comparatively new to the field and are looking to  gain more experience. While they are well aware of the local context, it is often observed that they are not fully oriented on critical knowledge and skills that are required to plan, implement and assess projects in the humanitarian and development sector. Due to limited funding and human capital, organizations are unable to provide detailed orientations or capacity building opportunities to its staff. Responding to this growing need of CSOs and NGOs, this four day training session was organized to build the capacity of the individuals working in the sector and equip them with the tools and techniques required for effective programming and expanded outreach to their targeted stakeholders. The training provides a multidimensional experience of learning through theory analysis and a behavioral study of different age groups.

The training focused on:

  • Enabling participants to improve their understanding of the definition of an NGO and their history, mandate, and scope of work within Pakistan
  • Enabling participants to share their experiences and acquire new skills pertinent to the NGO sector. Particular attention was paid to the emerging needs of communities and other current development issues
  • Learning the history of humanitarian assistance and several recognized standards ensuring quality and accountability when responding to an emergency.
  • Learning of the ethical and moral responsibilities of NGOs.

A total of seventeen participants took part in this Training on ‘Introduction to NGOs’. Sixty five percent of the participants were men while thirty five percent were women. All the participants of the training were employed for working at the grass root levels which made this training even more important and significant for them.

The main target of the workshop was to institutionalize aid organizations on the basics of the sector, therefore presidents of two of the village organizations, set up by Community World Service Asia in one of the communities it works in, also participated in the training so that their perspectives, being the most important stakeholders, were also taken in.

From the beginning till the end of the workshop, the  trainers kept participants involved through interactive and innovative teaching methodologies. Their expertise and knowledge on the subject was thorough. Content brainstorming helped encouraged by the trainers helped in developing constructive discussions during group activities. Methodologies like presentations, debates, role play, videos and group activities used by facilitators were proved to be effective yet entertaining for the participants.

A participatory approach was adopted by the trainers as they provided equal opportunities to participants for taking in their feedback on individual basis in the various sessions conducted during the four days. One of the outdoor activities, the recycle exercise, was one that the participants particularly enjoyed as it not only enhanced their knowledge on the subject but also energized them. Participants learned a lot from outdoor activities which emphasized on environmental sustainability, behavior of donor and on being environmentally friendly.

The trainers noted that the level of understanding and participation of participants was exceptionally high which indicated that the training had been successful in achieving its goals. Before the training, participants confessed that they were curious about what the content of the training would be but later expressed they were satisfied as they felt that the training fully met their needs. They were all certain that they would take all that they had learnt through this workshop with them to improve existing policies and procedures in their organizations.

Participants Voices

Asif“I came here with the goal to learn about project planning, rules, policies and procedures. I have learnt a lot in terms of project planning. The topic, organizational development was new for me. ” Mohammad Asif Imran

Abdul Saeed“From a learning point of view, topics like Introduction to NGOs and History of NGOs were new for me while topics like Project cycle ,Vision, mission, objectives, and mandate were very informative because I had no clarity  on these subjects before the training. Though a project cycle already exists in my organization, I would like to implement the learnings of this training by further improving our project cycle and will focus more on objectives.” Abdul Saeed

Faisal“The term SWOT analysis was new for me. I appreciated the session on the ethical and moral responsibilities of NGOs and I would like to implement these moral values in our organization.” Faisal Naeem

Shumaila“Through this training, I have gained more clarity about the vision, mission, objectives and mandate of NGOs. The training topic was very educational for me and the discussion on development was also quite enlightening.” Shumaila Abbasi