Stories

Since 2009, the ongoing conflict in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and its adjoining regions has resulted in a mass displacement of its population to different districts of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KPK). More than thirty thousand families from these displaced communities have migrated to Kohat, a city located at around 70km from Peshawar. To support the displaced community in Kohat, Community World Service Asia (formerly CWS-P/A) in partnership with Dan Church Aid (DCA), is providing livelihood interventions to improve food security among selected migrants and host communities.

During consultative meetings with the affected population, lack of skills for income-generation and food production opportunities were identified as a prime concern among the conflict affected populace in Kohat. To reduce these vulnerabilities, Community World Service Asia provided skills training fifty men and fifty women from the target communities on tailoring, embroidery, welding and plumbing. Selection of training was made depending on each trainee’s requirement and choice. Supporting toolkits to continue practice of the learnt skills were also provided to the training participants.

Trainings to the fifty men were provided by implementing partners Sarhad Rural Support Program (SRSP) in Kohat. Dilawar Khan, Samiullah Khan and Shah Jee Khan are three of the selected participants of the trainings provided. The three of them shared how this intervention by Community World Service Asia has made an impact on their lives since their displacement.

At the time of selection, I thought that this training would be a waste of time but the trainer worked very hard with me and made me realize how helpful it was. I am very much thankful to Community World Service Asia and SRSP for conducting this training. Now I have a skill and can earn better for my family. Before I took this training I barely earned four to five thousand a month, in which it was very difficult to manage my household expenses. I am hopeful that I will get more work opportunities in my own village now and will be able to send my children to school and provide them with better education.”

Dilawar, 26 years old, is married has three children. He lives in a joint family with the total of 22 household members. Before displacement his family’s main livelihood was farming on their own native land. In Kohat, they have no source of income and live in a rented house.

Samiullah 1

I am very happy for being nominated for the plumbing skills training. I practically learnt how to use all the plumbing tools and completed the training in a good environment. Before participating in this training I had no skills to earn an income for my family and myself. Today I have a skill and it empowers me to earn a better livelihood and lead a comfortable life. When I went back home upon successful completion of the training course, I started practicing the skills learnt and started doing some repair work for my neighbors and relatives in the village which enabled me to earn sufficient money. I was also trying to get work outside the village and finally one of my relatives who is engaged with sanitary tools business in Peshawar called me and employed me at his shop. After a week, myself and three other training graduates secured a contract for completing the sanitary construction work at a newly constructed building in Peshawar at forty thousand rupees per month”.

Shah Jee Khan belong to the Bakezai Banda village in Kohat. He is 29 years of age, is married and has two children. He had no source of income when he migrated to Kohat.

Shah G 2

“Vocational trainings conducted by SRSP and Community World Service Asia equipped me with the skills I needed and paved the way to earn a respectable livelihood for me and my family. When I came after completing the training course, I was contacted by my trainer who informed me about scheduled test interviews of UAE based MBC company in Chota Lahore District Swabi for hiring. I appeared for test/interviews on the mention date and time and passed it with good marks. The company selected me for the post of a plumber. I was offered a two year valid visa with a monthly salary of AED.1000, excluding allowances for overtime, food and accommodation. I was told that I shall get visa confirmation within 20 days. Before taking this training I was unemployed and was very worried about my future as I had no professional skill and work experience. I am very much grateful to Community World Service Asia for providing me with a hope for a bright future”.

Samiullah Khan belongs to the Afridi Banda village in Kohat. He is 21 years of age, is unmarried and lives with his parents. His father is disabled which is why Samiullah is the sole income bearer of the family.

Ama Sumani is a leading figure in her community. As president of her Village and Community Organizations, she plays an integral role in building the resilience of her community to natural disasters. Community World Service Asia established these organizations in order to mobilize communities to take action and protect themselves from the flooding and fires to which they are especially vulnerable.

The organizations conduct drills for evacuations, using stretchers to transport injured individuals, fire extinguisher use and other key responses to emergency situations. As well as leading her communities through these organizations, Ama Sumani has been inspired to take her own independent initiatives to promote disaster resilience. She has even turned her own home (pictured) into a store for resources such as emergency blankets and first aid equipment. Ama Sumani represents the dedication and empowerment which Community World Service Asia sees as crucial to building safety and security for vulnerable communities.

Mailah’s mother, Rabia, has been attending adult literacy classes run by Community World Service Asia as part of our work to empower rural women. As well as training in traditional vocational skills, like embroidery and appliqué work, we provide education on basic literacy and numeracy to support the earning potential of women.

Our participants are developing a deep appreciation for the importance of education, and are even teaching their own daughters how to read and write! Rabia proudly shares what she is learning, writing our initials (CWS), her village’s name (Jaffar), her name and her mother’s name. Mailah shows us that the benefits of activities like this are far-reaching and long-term.

Noor Elahi, age 29, is a resident at the Afghan refugee camp in Khaki, Mansehra. Being the sole breadwinner, supporting a family of eight members, including his five children, became challenging for Elahi after his father’s death. “I was distressed when my father passed away since I was dependent on him. Now I don’t have any other means of income.” Working hard to make ends meet, Elahi began to work as a laborer on daily wages until he was selected as a trainee under the Vocational Training and Market Development Program to learn carpentry skills.

Foreseeing a bright future, Elahi enthusiastically participated in a four month training program. To encourage participation, trainees were paid a stipend of PKR.150 per day including lunch and refreshment. Upon successful completion of the training he received a certificate along with a tool kit to practice his learning. In addition, he acquired a job as a partially skilled laborer at a local carpentry shop which further increased his earnings. To build upon his capabilities and learn advanced techniques, Elahi was selected for a one month refresher course.

“I was satisfied about my future to some extent and was pleased to know about the advance course offered by Community World Service Asia (formerly CWS-P/A). I happily participated in the course to enhance my skills and learned to operate 5 in 1 woodworking machine.”

Considering his expertise and his passion to progress as a professional carpenter, Elahi was selected by the Community World Service Asia (formerly CWS-P/A) team for Small and Medium Enterprise program along with another Afghan graduate. They were also provided a 5 in 1 woodworking machine to launch their own shop. “Together we are working very hard and generate a profit of PKR.15, 000 per month which is equally divided between us. Now, we also have an opportunity to share our knowledge and learn new techniques from each other. We provide economical services to our community members at their door step and also plan to expand our business to a larger scale. I am very thankful to Community World Service Asia (formerly CWS-P/A); because of their extensive assistance I can now support my family easily.”

To support the rehabilitation of refugee communities in Pakistan, Community World Service Asia (formerly CWS-P/A) is implementing a Vocational Training and Market Development Project in Mansehra and Haripur as Gifts of the United States Government since 2010. The goal is to enhance self-reliance and increase income for men and women of Afghan Refugees and host community. A four-month program imparts certifiable skills training to men in welding, electrical works, carpentry, auto mechanics, auto electrician, motor cycle mechanic, plumbing and masonry. Women participate in handicraft and dress designing trades in affiliation with Skill Development Council Peshawar. Upon course completion, graduates received a tool kit designed for their respective trades, which enabled them to establish small scale businesses or more easily find employment in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

Dispirited by poverty, Rubeena was extremely concerned about the expenses she had to bear for delivering her first baby. Rubeena lives with her husband and his family in village Ranta, union council Bijora. A laborer by profession, her husband, the only breadwinner of the family earns PKR.200 per day, which is not enough to meet the essential requirements of seven family members.

“In view of my family’s current financial situation I was apprehensive about the high cost we would have to pay for my delivery. With transportation and medicine bills included, I knew the childbirth would cost us a lot, which we could not afford.”

Once Rubeena became aware about the quality of medical services provided at the maternal, neonatal child health center (MNCH) at very nominal rates, she planned to visit the center. Examined by an experienced,female medical officer, Rubeena was satisfied and began to visit the center for regular antenatal consultations. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy at the health center in mid-March, 2015. “Previously I was unaware of childbirth assistance available at such low costs. If I had been taking medical consultations at another health facility, we would have paid PKR.2000 or even more by now. I am glad that we managed the entire treatment at a very minimal cost of PKR.30.”

While Rubeena enjoys her early motherhood days, she continues to visit the health center for postnatal care and also consults with the medical staff regarding her baby’s health and vaccinations.

“I am thankful to Community World Service Asia, for establishing a MNCH in a remote area and for providing quality services at a very low cost. I hope this facility continues to provide support to us and to other communities.”

Community World Service Asia with financial support from Church of Scotland is successfully implementing a project on Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Centre (MNCH) in union council Bijora, district Thatta, Sindh. The aim is to improve maternal, newborn, and child health by providing curative and preventive basic health services, ante and postnatal care, family planning, and vaccination campaigns. The community also benefits from health education sessions on a variety of topics including HIV & AIDS, infant and child feeding, prevention of childhood diseases, and malnutrition. During the first quarter of the year, 1,569 community members received medical assistance at the health center. One hundred and fifty six participants including women, children and men participated in thirteen health sessions, and four health management committee meetings were organized till date.

Khumari’s eyes reflect the sorrow of losing three brothers and a cousin. Trembling with fear she shared, “my father and elder brother are soldiers based in Helmand province, south of Afghanistan. It was during midnight when our village based in Darra district of Panjsher province was hit by a snow slide flowing into our homes and destroyed everything.”

Khumari ran out of her house to save her life and recalls the screams and cries of other village members during the disaster. “My family members were trapped inside the house under the snow. Later my uncle helped to take them out.” Some of her family members survived the incident and were shifted to safe areas; however those who were not able to make it were left in the snow.

“Everything is destroyed. My father and my brother arrived the next day and were shattered to see our ruined village. Dead bodies of humans and animals were on the ground and some of them were still buried under the snow.” Khumari and her family feel very helpless and are in dire need of assistance. Looking forward to a helping hand, community members are willing to move out of this area to start a new life given that they are provided assistance from humanitarian agencies to fulfill their immediate emergency needs.

Shireen Khan, age forty-seven is one of the affected community members residing in a sub village of Darra district, Panjsher province. A farmer by profession, Shireen is the only breadwinner of his family including his wife and eight children. Life was usual until an avalanche struck Shireen’s village on February 25, 2015. “The snow slide occurred during midnight. It ruined everything, our house, our goods and orchards, and all our valuables causing us a loss of approximately 600,000 Afs (10,000 US dollars). More than this I lost my five month old baby in this natural disaster,” shared Shireen with grief.

Furthermore he shared that overall twenty-three people are killed, six injured and thirty-five houses are destroyed from his village due to this avalanche. Awaiting emergency assistance Shireen shared, “till now we have received some support from community members and few national traders. Our land is completely destroyed; hence there is no possibility of reconstruction or any other opportunity for livelihoods. If anyone assists me I will migrate from this area and construct my new house at a different location to start a new life.”

To develop an environment that encourages the students’ physical and cognitive development, CWS-P/A established five play areas in schools that participate in its girls’ education project.

“I am very happy and enjoy coming to school,” shared Shakira, a fifth grade student. Ever since the play area was constructed, Shakira attends school regularly. Although her house is four kilometers from the school, she enjoys walking an hour before school so she can enjoy time in the play area. “I play three times a day; before school starts, during the break, and lastly before leaving for home. I feel quite energized and it also helps me to memorize my lesson very well. I am confident to attain first position in my class this year.”

Muzafar, a teacher, also observed a positive change in Shakira’s interests. “Before the construction of play areas, Shakira used to be absent very often, but now she has become very enthusiastic. She comes to school regularly and also learns her lesson well. She is ambitious to become a lawyer in the future.”

“I express my gratitude to the school management and CWS-P/A for motivating my daughter to attend school regularly”

During the construction process, our project team conducted several monitoring visits of the schools. Excited children were anxiously waiting for the play areas to be functional. They regularly asked our team when the play area would be completed and how frequently they will be allowed to play. Shakira’s parents have also acknowledged this effort and personally thanked our project staff for this initiative. “I express my gratitude to the school management and CWS-P/A for motivating my daughter to attend school regularly,” shared Samiullah, Shakira’s father. He further shared that the school principal informed him about the overall increase in children’s attendance and a growing interest in their studies.

Our girls’ education project began in 2009, with an aim to increase girls’ enrollment in school, enhance teachers’ capacity, and encourage community involvement in education, gender equality, and economic growth.

Many villages in Nangarhar are host to communities that cannot financially support their children’s education. Higher education is even more inaccessible due to distance, financial constraints, security concerns, and prevalent cultural restrictions.

Our girls’ education project is designed to provide the girls of these communities with a sustainable source of income, learning, and empowerment. Skills based classes on handicrafts such as hand embroidery, bead knitting, drawing, and painting were conducted as extra-curricular activities in the local girls’ schools selected in the Surkhroad District of the province as part of this project.

“My higher education is now ensured which will help me become a doctor so I can further support my family and the community.”

Diana, a student at the Peer Sayed Hassan Gailani High School in Surkhroad, and recipient of the skill based classes on embroidery handicraft has benefited immensely from these activities. One of her handicrafts was selected as the best piece by the panel of judges at the school competition. Diana started receiving numerous orders for making hand embroidered garments and other accessories from many schoolmates, teachers, and community members.

“I am really thankful to the Girls’ Education Project because it provided me the opportunity to introduce my skills to a wider audience. I, myself, did not realize my hand embroidery skills until I was appreciated by the judges’ panel and skill based class participants. That is when I recognized my skill and decided to further improve it and use it as an income source.”

Today, Diana has four female students from her neighborhood, to whom she teaches embroidery skills at her house, along with making products on order for other clients from the community. Diana plans to establish a handicrafts business center with other women from the community, in the future.

Diana further added, “I am very happy and hopeful for my future because my father has advised me to save my income generated through these sales for enrolling in university instead of contributing for household expenses. My higher education is now ensured which will help me become a doctor so I can further support my family and the community.”

Our girls’ education project began in 2009, with an aim to increase girls’ enrolment in school, enhance teachers’ capacity, and encourage community involvement in education, gender equality, and economic growth.

Developing a strong network, where each organization can learn and apply the Sphere standards to improve their humanitarian accountability is one of Mr. Kep Kannaro’s goals. Kannaro, the new Sphere Focal Point for Cambodia, is also the Cambodian Humanitarian Forum’s (CHF)[1] Chairperson and Executive Director of Partnership for Development in Kampuchea (PADEK).

In 2011, Kannaro participated in CWS-P/A Sphere training for the first time. Shortly afterward, Cambodia experienced massive floods. He immediately initiated an emergency response proposal, integrating the Sphere standards. “It was very difficult to put into practice,” admitted Kannaro. “We’ve been blamed for not responding as quickly as we should because of time taken by the assessments. However, the results were positive and the donors were really satisfied.”

Convinced about the potential of the Sphere standards and the importance to enhance quality and accountability of humanitarian response in Cambodia, Kannaro wanted to enhance the expertise of the Cambodian civil society organizations.

In 2012, with the support of USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), Kannaro created the Cambodian Humanitarian Forum, a network of national organizations dedicated to strengthening emergency response capacities of national organizations. Since its creation, CHF has organized several capacity building initiatives, including Sphere standards trainings, and established an information and resource-sharing center.

CWS-P/A approached CHF this year based on a consultative process with some Cambodian organizations about the possibility of having a Sphere Country Focal Point in Cambodia. CHF accepted this role. As Chairperson of CHF, Kannaro took it as an opportunity to learn from his peers in the region and to transfer the acquired knowledge to his Cambodian counterparts.

“Awareness has increased and standards are more integrated in their emergency response after the training given by the forum.”

Today, Kannaro is proud of the progress made by Cambodian non-profits who benefited from the trainings. “Awareness has increased and standards are more integrated into their emergency response after the training given by the forum [CHF].” He also emphasized the challenges ahead. Despite the progress, he admitted, “Not many organizations are aware about the Sphere standards, and we also need to work closely with the government to mainstream those standards into the humanitarian response.”

Kannaro is enthusiastic about how the Sphere standards positively impact humanitarian response. His goal is to advocate for a proper disaster response law that would integrate the minimum standards. “If we can integrate standards in the law, more NGOs will apply them.” With a smile and positive outlook, Kannaro concluded, “It will be difficult, but we can make it.”

Kannaro and CHF exemplify of how capacity building and an effective networking platform can strengthen the promotion and application of the Sphere standards in humanitarian programs. They also demonstrate the importance of having Sphere champions, the ones who can inspire, empower, and engage more organizations for improving humanitarian effectiveness and enhancing the quality of aid delivery to the communities.

In October 2014, Kannaro was among ten Sphere country focal points who participated in the Sphere Focal Point Forum in Bangkok, Thailand. The event encouraged candid discussion, peer learning, and joint advocacy while enabling a sense of community among Sphere practitioners across Asia. Speaking at the event about his role as the Sphere Country Focal Point, Kannaro shared, “My vision for the future is promoting awareness and the ability to apply Sphere among the network [CHF] members; secondly, to work with government line departments and ministries to integrate Sphere standards into disaster management law; and thirdly, to work together to apply and build awareness among community members so they know about the assistance they are receiving.”

[1] CHF is a network of national NGOs and civil society organizations working in Cambodia which aims to improve humanitarian actions for saving lives in communities during emergency through capacity building and training, accountability, coordination and cooperation, and quality humanitarian standard. http://www.chfcambodia.net/

As the Sphere regional partner in Asia, Community World Service Asia supports the promotion and implementation of the Sphere standards training, Q&A deployments, technical support, and events such as this forum. In collaboration with The Sphere Project, we organized the Sphere Focal Point Forum, twice, in 2011 and in 2014. This year’s Forum was jointly financed by The Sphere Project, Diakonie-Sweden, Act for Peace and Community World Service Asia.