Stories

What is the project?

The project aims to support families affected by recurrent floods who have been left with food shortages and minimal income opportunities as agricultural gains have been washed away.

Target groups:

  • Vulnerable households frequently affected by the floods
  • Flood-affected women engaged in kitchen gardening and other income-generation activities
  • Small landowners (who own up to six acres of land) and sharecroppers who have lost their crops during the recent and previous floods
  • Flood-affected landless labourers
  • Socially and religiously marginalized disaster-affected communities
  • Direct Target Groups: 1,535 households (including 625 women-headed households), or 7,675 individuals
  • Indirect Target Groups: 300 households, or 1,860 individuals who will indirectly benefit from the rehabilitated agriculture infrastructure

Achievements so far:

  • Introduction of IRRI-6 rice crop, a saline tolerant crop which will eventually increase resilience of rice planted in saline-affected fields and protect farmers from damage and loss of crops
  • Each family received three 20kg bags of certified rice seed
  • Each family received one 20kg bag of organic fertilizer, sufficient for cultivating two to three acres of land
  • Orientation on integrated crop management techniques and disaster resilient farming techniques for affected farmers
  • 600 women-headed households received kitchen gardening seeds and tool kits
  • Cash grants and disaster risk reduction sessions support local resilience and capacity to effectively cope with the future disasters
  • Promotion of women’s empowerment and food diversity through kitchen gardening

Community World Service Asia is working with communities in rural Sindh to empower women.  With support from UK Aid and Y Care International, we are training women in vocational and literacy skills to improve their opportunities and combat poverty.  However, in order for women to be able to fully realize their potential, their rights need to be recognized, supported and upheld in their homes and throughout the wider community.

We are working to promote gender equality by highlighting some of the key issues which affect women in this area, including domestic violence and child marriage.  Theater is a powerful tool to approach these difficult topics, as it provides entertainment, can reach a large number of people, and can engage an audience in themes which are relevant to them, overcoming limitations such as low levels of literacy.

More than 60 community members, social workers, civil society activists and students came to watch a performance which was organized and held by local gender activists who are being trained and supported to raise awareness of gender issues through the project.

The play followed the story of a character called Neela, who was married at the age of twelve.  Although the legal minimum age for marriage in Pakistan is eighteen for boys and sixteen for girls, poverty and insecurity mean that many girls are married at a young age.  Through Neela’s character, the audience saw the impact of a decision made by her father, without the involvement of Neela herself or any other family members.

Neela was forced to drop out of school before progressing on to grade six, so that she could go and live with her new husband and his family.  In her new home, she experienced domestic abuse, both physically and mentally. When Neela returned to her parents’ home, the performers stopped the play and invited the audience to decide how to address the situation. This kind of interaction is extremely engaging for the audience and helps them to relate the themes of the performance to their own situations.  The audience suggested that Neela should file a case in court under Sindh’s Child Marriage Act.

The play was able to share the reality of gender inequality with the audience, and to highlight the violations of rights that are caused by practices such as child marriage. Ms Lachmi, one of the performers, explained the importance of highlighting issues relating to gender justice in the community.

“We women should be strong. We are not only the machines of producing children, but all women can stand with men shoulder to shoulder.”

Community World Service Asia’s Capacity Institutionalization project (CIP) continues to provide trainings and technical assistance resources that caters to the requirements of civil society organizations. In an effort to build the capacity of local humanitarian and development organizations and to expand the use of evidence-based practices, Community World Service Asia hosted two networking events in Islamabad and Lahore in the month of June.  Participants from different organizations shared their learnings, success stories and future implementation and partnership ideas in this event.

The first networking event took place in Lahore. Representatives and participants from various organizations attended the session and explored new possible partnerships. Organizations of the same professional community got to know more about each other’s’ work, upcoming trainings and how to participate in them, areas of priority and published work.

The second event of the same nature was held in Islamabad with the aim to promote the trainings the organization offers on various topics on organizational development and humanitarian quality and accountability at national and regional levels among the aid sector in Islamabad.

Participants Tête-à-Tête

FarkhandaDr. Farkhanda Ather – Mercy Corps

“This was an interesting event, which provided an opportunity to know the local NGOs as well as the diversified scope of work of Community World Service Asia”

NobaNoba Anil- Community Advancement Society

“This networking event was very useful, because it gave us a chance to interact with different organizations. These kind of networking events are beneficial for developing relationships between humanitarian organizations.”

mahrukhMahrukh Saleem – Plan international

“We got to find out a lot of helpful information regarding trainings today. This will  help us in enhancing the capacity of our organization’s staff. Moreover, the  event was very interactive and it provided an opportunity for organizations at all levels to get to  know each other.“

Hafeez AhmadSHafeez Ahmed- Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

“The session on Community World Asia’s work, domain and focus areas was quite an informative one. It is good for new learners as well as for those who are running their own CBOS and NGOs to get this sort of information. Vital information about upcoming trainings, their procedure to participate, very important themes like project management and financial management were covered. This session serves as a key for new avenues of development especially for those who are eager to do something in future.”

TariqTariq Rahim- ACF (Action Against Hunger) International

“It is a great experience of working with Community World Service.  They always bring us together and provide us with an opportunity to sit together and share ideas.  The event was a successful platform for networking.”

Strengthening financial management skills in small-scale organizations

A proper understanding and application of financial concepts is becoming essential to professionals working in the nonprofit sector as donor agencies increasingly prefer organizations that have good financial management systems in place. Held from 10-13th of May in Peshawar, this three-day training is the second of its sort specifically designed and organized by Community World Service Asia to strengthen the financial management skills of participants belonging to small-scale organizations. The training aimed to equip participants with knowledge and skills to help them utilize financial management tools efficiently. It was attended by a total number of 23 participants comprising of six women and seventeen men from nine organizations.

The training imparted specific skills on the fundamentals of financial management such as developing effective financial policies and internal controls, streamlining accounting system as per organizational policies, preparing budgets, preparing financial reports as per donor requirements as well as facilitating audits to ensure transparency.

Masood Ahmed, the trainer, helped the participants in developing projects and consolidated budgets using activity-based budgeting techniques, simple cash flow forecasts and learning to use them. The significance of financial policies and procedures was highlighted.

Participants got a clearer understanding of the financial management roles and responsibilities of board members, managers, finance team, and program staff. They became better aware of the importance of budgets in planning, control, and decision-making, the key components and language of accounting systems and the link between budgets, accounting records, and financial reports. One of the participants Shahzad From SSEWA PAK said, “The resource person had full command on the topics discussed and had a grip on the entire session.” Another participant, M. Akbar from Dehi Ijtimai Tarqyati Social Workers Council (DITSWC) said that he appreciated the resource person’s way of handling participants working in both finance and programs and found the session inspiring.

Furthermore, brainstorming, individual exercises, lectures, role-plays, group work, interactive discussions, power point presentations were conducted while handout materials were distributed and discussed with all participants.

Twenty members of sixteen Village Disaster Management Committees (VDMCs) established by Community World Service Asia in rural Sindh visited the Pakistan Meteorological Department in Karachi this May.  The members of this hazard-prone community, which is regularly and severely affected by seasonal flooding, were able to observe the ways in which the government department processes and responds to information on weather, climate and geophysical phenomena with the aim of ensuring safety in the air, land and sea. They also observed how these measures mitigate the impact of climate change on agriculture, the main source of employment and income in the province of Sindh.

Chief Meteorologist, Abdul Rasheed, and his colleague, Sarfaraz, introduced the visitors to the effects of climate change, weather forecasting and early warning systems for heavy rains, heatwaves and flooding.

“It’s a matter of great pleasure for us that Community World Service Asia is taking such brave steps to educate communities at a grass-root level,”

Rasheed shared. “The role of DDMA [District Disaster Management Authority] should be strengthened to reduce disasters at the local level, however our unconditional support is always there.”

Gul Hassan, a VDMC member, added,

“It is a good opportunity to learn how government machinery works. We would also like to request the Chief Meteorologist and his team to educate us in the villages.” 

Hanif Nooh Waliro, another VDMC member, said,

“We have learnt a lot; although the presentation was quite tricky, visiting observatory stations was very informative.”

With support from Christian Aid, Community World Service Asia is working to empower local communities to take action so that they can protect themselves from the impact of natural disasters.  Activities such as this visit enable community members to learn about the causes of natural disasters and the mechanisms which are in place to anticipate them. Such activities build links between government departments and local organizations which contribute to effective coordination for preparedness.

Zakira shares her artistic skills

“May I come to this room and learn what you are teaching?”

Eight-year-old Zakira became the youngest participant at a recent teachers’ training workshop held by Community World Service Asia at Qala-e-Shikhan Girls’ High School in the Laghman province of Afghanistan.

During the workshop, the facilitators introduced the teachers to the concept of nature and nurture by asking them to think about students that they liked and students whom they found difficult, and to explore the reasons behind their feelings.  Zakira shared that the classmate she most admired was a girl who always helped the other girls in the classroom.

The daughter of a mason, Zakira is the seventh of eleven siblings in a large family which struggles to make ends meet.  In spite of her difficult circumstances, Zakira inspired the team with her energy and interest in learning.

“I will become a teacher and teach children,” she shared.

Although she is not yet able to write, she participated in a poetry competition which was included in the workshop.  The team recorded her ideas and awarded her a runner-up prize for her imaginative verse.

“If I were a bird, I would fly, and when I got tired, I would sit on a tree with peace,” Zakira recited.

Community World Service Asia hopes to support Zakira to fly as she pursues her education, and looks forward to seeing where she lands.

Students and teachers participated actively in a walk/rally, in district Sujawal, organized by Community World Service to mark the importance of Global Earth Day.

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Every year, Global Earth Day is celebrated across the globe to call for action against harmful environmental practices and to help spread awareness about protecting the Earth’s natural environment. To mark the importance of this day and the cause it represents, Community World Service Asia, with support from Christian Aid, pledged to plant 4000 trees in various localities of districts Thatta and Sujawal in Sindh. The team collaborated with Plan International, Action for Humanitarian Development (AHD) and Voice of Youth Group to make this possible.

Titled ‘One Family, One Tree,’ the campaign ran for an entire week  (18-22 April) and was inaugurated by chief guest Mr. Abdul Latif Brohi, Assistant Deputy Commissioner , who planted a tree at the DC office in Thatta. Over the five days of the campaign, trees were planted by men, women and children in schools, government offices, roadsides and villages. Youth volunteers and teachers also participated in the activity.

Community World Service Asia, with the support of the ACT Alliance, has been working to respond to the needs of families affected by severe flooding in 2015.  District Sujawal, in the Sindh province of Pakistan, has been faced with many serious health risks in the aftermath of the flooding.  Access to health facilities and services is a major issue for the community, as the nearest government health facility is at least five kilometers away.  With high levels of poverty, unreliable income sources and the losses faced by families as a result of the floods, the cost of transport and treatment can be an insurmountable obstacle.

Stagnant water and poor shelter conditions result in widespread incidences of malaria, diarrhea, fever, scabies and other skin diseases.  Families who have been displaced by the flooding, as well as young children and the elderly, are especially vulnerable to these illnesses.

Community World Service Asia has been working directly with communities in the Union Councils of Bello and Bijora in District Sujawal for many years, and has developed strong relationships in these areas.  In order to meet the urgent health needs of these communities, a seven-month project was initiated in August 2015.  Mobile health units enabled vulnerable groups such as women, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities to access health care in their own villages, and have consultations with doctors.  A total of 12,793 patients were examined by doctors in this seven-month period, which enabled health issues to be properly identified and addressed.  Essential medicines were also provided to patients, which eased the financial burden of health needs and ensured that patients were able to receive the treatment they needed.

In such situations of uncertainty and insecurity, pregnant women in particular are faced with specific risks and challenges.  A Lady Health Visitor and a doctor were also available to provide vital ante- and post-natal care services to 388 women.

As well as responding to current health needs, 362 awareness-raising sessions on health and hygiene were delivered to 8,378 community members in order to prevent the outbreak of illness through improved knowledge and practices.

Community World Service Asia is committed to the accountability of all its interventions, and works to ensure that our projects are implemented in a way that is inclusive and participatory.  A key method for engaging and empowering the communities we work with is to form village committees, who play a vital role in liaising between the communities and the project teams, identifying relevant issues and mobilizing the community.  In seven months 24 village health committees were formed in Union Councils.  We are also committed to ensuring that the voices of all affected people are heard, so half of these committees are women’s committees, and are dedicated to highlighting and addressing the needs of women in the area.

Community World Service Asia is working to enhance the livelihoods opportunities of rural artisan women by linking them with students from design institutes in Karachi.  The artisans and students are collaborating to produce innovative designs which combine traditional handicraft skills with the demands and trends of the modern urban market.  The initiative, supported by the Danish Center for Culture and Development, aims to connect these rural artisans to an urban customer base in order to develop a profitable and sustainable source of income.  The project also provides students with an exciting opportunity to share their skills and knowledge, and learn about the cultural and artistic heritage and value of these handicraft traditions.  This month, we spoke with Zehra Ilyas, a fourth year design student at the prestigious Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, to hear about her experience of the project so far.

Q: Why do you think there is a need for such a program that connects women in rural communities with young women like yourself studying design in urban centers?

A: We, as design intervention students, are taught how to sustain crafts that exist in our country and how to help their revival in a way that the livelihoods of the people who are working in rural areas can be improved. We are also benefitting from them in that these types of embroidery are not available all over the world.

Q: What do you feel that you are gaining from your involvement in the project?

A: They [the artisans] are producing a different type of embroidery that no other part of the world can produce. It’s a great thing to have that sort of craft revival in your own country so that you can get linked to your roots and you can do something different from what is already being produced. More specifically, I would like to point out that in a time when there is so much mass production, if there are hand-embroidered products, that of course creates an impact.

Q: As a designer, what have you learnt from the artisans?

A: It was a very humbling experience.  We think that we know everything, but when we meet them, we know that there is so much more to learn, not just because of the embroidery that they are doing, but the fact that they are very experienced with their embroidery. We feel like we know it and that we can just draw it, but there’s more to it. The way they are so patient with it, they are so good with their work and are extremely disciplined with it.

Q: What were the main challenges that you faced while visiting the artisans in their rural village?

A: Language was the biggest barrier. Secondly, there were time constraints as one or two hours are not enough with each artisan. That was one problem but they were so hospitable and nice. There were no other issues as such besides language and time.

Q: What do you think is the importance of empowering women – especially in a country like Pakistan where we are still struggling to provide basic rights to women?

A: Pakistan, being a third world country and the education level being so low, making women independent should be one of the biggest aims of the country. When we look at how women are oppressed it’s very important to make them independent. Teaching them how to be independent, I believe, that is a very big step. It gives them confidence to deal with people and situations. If I give them an order and ask them to produce something in a given time frame, it develops them in a different way.

Q: What other projects or brands have impacted your interested in a project that encourages collaboration between rural and urban communities?

A: Well, FnkAsia [a brand which sells women’s clothing and accessories] collaborates with a group in Chitral. It’s a good brand and the products are expensive. The thing is that the products are being sold and the artisans are being paid. That is the basic aim.

Q: What did you learn from them?

A: Patience. I am not a very patient person and even though there was a language barrier, the artisans were so calm and relaxed with us.

 

 

 

Community World Service Asia is working to empower young women in rural Sindh through improved earning opportunities, literacy skills, and enhanced awareness of gender equality.  Kaveeta is eighteen years old and lives in Walhar village in Umerkot, where the project is being implemented in partnership with Y Care International and UK Aid.

She is engaged in the project as an artisan and an instructor at the Adult Literacy Center.  Currently, her entire household subsists on around Rs. 6,000 (approximately US$57) a month. “Lack of income means doing everything the hard way,” she explains. “We are struggling to get food.”  For Kaveeta and her family, meeting the basic needs of nutrition, health and education is a constant challenge.

When Community World Service Asia initiated the project in her village, a local steering committee was formed and the members met with the community to tell them about the project and encourage them to participate.  Kaveeta was already experienced in appliqué work, and wanted the opportunity to polish her skills.  At the Vocational Training Center, she has learned about working in a group to improve the quality, as well as about different color combinations, finishing and packing products, pricing, and how to negotiate with suppliers.

Due to Kaveeta’s skills, she was selected to produce handicrafts to be displayed and sold at the Daachi Foundation Exhibition in Lahore in November 2015.

“That was a great experience,” she shares. “Our trainer told us that we have to prepare quilts for the exhibition and we had just fifteen days to complete this order.  At first I was nervous and thought, ‘How can this order be completed in just two weeks?’ But when I started to work in the group, we completed the order on time and realized the importance of group work. That was the first time we prepared quilts with modern designs, that’s why I was very excited.”

Kaveeta received payment from Community World Service for her contributions to the exhibition.  As she continues to earn an income, she hopes to one day open her own center where she will teach others what she has learned through her participation in the project.

“Teaching adults is special for me,” she says. Kaveeta’s affinity for teaching motivated her to volunteer as an instructor at the Adult Literacy Center, where she helps her fellow artisans to develop literacy skills. “I enjoy this work because I want to teach all the women of my village.  They are interested in learning.  It is a big achievement that artisans learned to write their names.”

Through her participation, Kaveeta is building not only her handicraft skills, but her confidence as well.  She has high hopes for her future and for the future of the women in her village.  Community World Service Asia looks forward to continuing to work with her and to realize those hopes.