Stories

Asiyat Azeem, 36-year-old mother of eight, is a lady health worker (LHW) from Morand Patu village located in Umerkot, district, Sindh Province.  She has four daughters and four sons.

My husband is an old man and does not work. I am the sole bread earner in my house. As a LHW with the health department, I earn a salary of PKR 21,000 monthly. My income is mostly consumed in household expenses.

Asiyat added that her two elder sons are not employed due to lack of education.

With my little savings I could not afford their education, I therefore set up a small grocery shop for my eldest son. He earns around PKR 300 – 500, varying on the daily sales. There are days when they there are no sales even. My second son assists me in my activities as a health worker.

Women in Morad Patu lived a conservative life and were not allowed to travel freely on their own. They rarely stepped out of their homes and if they ever did, it wouldn’t be without the men in their families accompanying. Most of their days were spent taking care of their children and families and completing daily home chores. Some of the women stitched clothes for their families and children in their spare time; however, their skills were not utilized to earn money.

My son, who works as a health worker with me, has been very supportive. He travels to far cities to purchase medicines and vaccines. Together, we then give vaccinations and conduct other health inducing activities together in Morand Patu and nearby villages.

Since Asiyat has been bearing all financial responsibilities on her own, she was unable to send all her children to school. However, Asiyat made sure to send her three younger children to a local school in the district to avail education. Of the three, two of her sons attend classes one and four and the daughter is in class five.  Asiyat’s eldest daughter is married and has four children of her own, while her second daughter is working as an artisan in the vocational center set up by Community World Service Asia and Ycare.

Community World Service Asia’s project team came to the Kharoro Charan village in 2017 to identify new villages for inclusion in their Livelihoods’ project. There, at the village health center, they met Rasheeda, a prominent gender activist from the village, and a few lady health workers (LHWs). Krishni, a LHW, was among the participants at the meeting. After their meeting, Krishni met Asiyat and told her about the initiative and shared contact details of the team with her. In response, Asiyat was quick to call and invite the livelihoods team to her village as she had a strong desire to bring development opportunities to the village and to improve her communities’ standards of living.

Naheed, a Community Mobilizer working with Community World Service Asia, shared,

When we first came to Murad Patu, all the girls hid in their homes and stared at us from a distance. No girl or woman was ready to sit for the skill assessment and join the center for skills development. The men in the village thought that we, the women representing the organization, will work against their cultural norms and will encourage women to disobey their families and men and leave their homes to build a future for themselves.

To bridge these social barriers between the project team and the community, Asiyat gathered a few elder community members (men and women) of the village and conducted a joint meeting to brief them about the project, its interventions and the establishment of the vocational center. In the beginning, Asiyat dedicated a room in her own to be used as the vocational center as part of the project. As more and more artisans, started registering, it was getting difficult to accommodate all of them in that room. Moreover, the natural light (being the only source of light in the room during long hours of electric load shedding) was insufficient to continue the lessons and intricate handwork. Asiyat discussed these issues with Arbab, the President of the village Steering Committee, who, vacated a room in his son’s house in the village to use as the vocational center. This room was much bigger in size and had more windows which allowed sufficient natural light to enter the room. The forty-five artisans selected at the centre were divided in groups of three; each group worked for two hours daily at the centre.

As a gender activist, I was given six households to work with and raise awareness on gender related issues. I held meetings with all households individually and observed their issues closely. After identifying their problems, I worked with each household accordingly. In the initial meeting I briefed the families about gender equality, the negative impacts of early and childhood marriage and gender discrimination. Through a booklet consisting of pictorial flip charts, delivering clear messages, it was easy to explain to the families the importance of gender equality in a society.

The views and opinions of the women in Murad Patu were generally overlooked and they had no input or say in decision-making processes. After Asiyat starting meeting these families and initiated candid discussions on prevalent issues with them, the women started to open up and participate  in decision-making, especially regarding decisions relating to their children and  their  marriages.

When a proposal comes for a girl, both the parents take a mutual decision whether to accept or refuse the proposal. We speak up when we disagree with any decision taken up by the men in the family. Before, it was impossible to say anything as the decision made by the elders was considered as the last verdict,

shared Khatoon, a woman residing in Murad Patu.

Most girls in the village rarely attended school and many of them just played in the village instead of attending school. Asiyat narrated,

I encouraged mothers to send their children, especially girls, to schools as this education will be beneficial for their future. I explained to them, if a girl is educated, she will be able to support her family financially in bad times and make important decisions for them. Women here never thought of their future before, therefore they do not encourage their daughters to be prepared for bad times either.

Zainab, a resident of Morad Patu, recalled,

My daughter did not go to school. My family was amongst the six households assigned to Asiyat to work with. She came to our house and told us why education is important, especially for girls. I did not think for the better future of my daughter. But today, I am happy to share with you that my daughter goes to school regularly and I wish to see her grow intellectually.

Fehmida and Gulzaab, daughters of Merab, another mother from Morad Patu, also started attending school after Asiyat encouraged the family to do so and enlightened them about the need and significance of education for a happy and progressive life.

Early and child-hood marriages were a common practice in the village. Girls of Morad Patu would customarily be married off by the age of 15years. Asiyat shared,

Due to the rigid mind-set and cultural norms, the people here never measured the disadvantages of marrying young girls. Shahnaz, 13 years old, and Farzana, 14 years old, were to be married in December 2017. Knowing the problems young girls face due to early marriage, I met with their families individually to try to talk them out of marrying their young daughters at such a young age. The families were told about the burden we put on young lives which affects their health badly.  Moreover, I explained the complications girls face during pregnancy at young ages, badly affecting the health of the mother and child. I gave them an example of a minor girl in our village who was married and consequently experienced three miscarriages due to which her health seriously deteriorated. Upon knowing the severe risks girls face in early marriages, the families of both the girls postponed their marriage for five years. Today, both the girls are happily working in the vocational center as artisans and earning through the local orders they receive.

Among the twelve hundred villagers living in Murad Patu, Asiyat was the only woman who worked independently, stepping out of her house to earn a living for her family.

After continuous meetings in relation to gender equality, we have 45 artisans working actively in the vocational center and contributing financially in their households. Three of the artisans travelled to Umerkot City and Chor (a city near Umerkot) to shop for their families and children. This was a great achievement.

I believe that women should be able to come out and take decisions for themselves. Mostly women do not share their opinions or wishes and only dream of being given importance. I encourage women to believe in themselves and take action to achieve their dreams. My son, who assisted me in my health activities, is also a gender activist under the livelihoods project. I am glad to see that my son is also working for women empowerment.

As a tourist destination, Swat has been both economically supported and environmentally damaged by tourism. Urban areas and industries along the river Swat have expanded faster than the capacities to manage solid waste, placing heavy burdens on the local infrastructure for industries, public services and governance. According to a research study conducted by our partners, University of Peshawar (UoP), on the extent of industrial and municipal dumping into local springs, rivulets, canals and the river Swat, it has demonstrated that drinking water resources are now significantly polluted. Immediate attention by leadership in all stakeholder groups is now needed. It is noted that the business community has an essential role to play in devising plans to save the Swat River, as well as ensure the future health of local citizens.

Based on the evidence gathered through the research, Community World Service Asia organized a seminar titled “Clean Water is Everyone’s Business”  in collaboration with the SWAT Chamber of Commerce and Industries and the UoP, to build more awareness on the environmental issues around polluted water sources in Saidu Sharif, Swat. The seminar held at the Serena in Saidu Sharif on the 13th of March created an opportunity for businesses and local Government leadership to discuss ways on partnering and recommend solutions to put an end to the degradation of the Swat river, and to identify other local drinking water sources. An approximate of fifty participants from Swat, Peshawar and Islamabad, representing the Swat Chamber of Commerce, University of Peshawar, Swat local government, local organizations and university students attended the seminar.

Dr. Moeen Ud Din, Corporate Director, Training and Development at the Serena Hotels, spoke about the importance of clean environment and the need for water conservation in his opening remarks at the seminar.

Fresh, clean water is a limited resource. Water conservation is key for  the preservation and health of our environment. We must put all our efforts in conserving water. The lesser water is used or wasted by people, the lesser chances of clean water being contaminated. Moreover, water conservation reduces energy use, thus reducing household expenses for many people. We are gathered here to discuss the importance of clean water and exchange ideas on how to save and clean the already polluted water.

Bakht-e-Karam, representing the Swat Chamber of Commerce and industries, urged for the business community to collaborate with the local government and non-governmental organizations to preserve the environmental heritage and protect water resources from contamination by industrial and commercial wastes.  It is this waste that eventually flows into canals and streams. Dr. Bushra Khan, Associate Professor at UoP’s Environmental Sciences Department, shared the findings of the research study being conducted by her team on the various sources and types of contaminants and pollutants that were destroying marine life in Swat rivers.

Dr. Ishaq Mian, another Associate Professor at the UoP presented findings on the status of drinking water sources in and around the Swat district capitol. He said,

Clean water is every citizen’s right and cleaning water is everyone’s responsibility. While turning on a tap and filling a glass to drink seems like a simple enough thing to do, the story of how water goes from a lake or river to your kitchen is actually a complex one.

Professor Dr. Hizbullah Khan, Chair of the Department of Environmental Sciences Department, UoP highlighted the global and local perspectives of Water contamination.

By the year 2029, the world population will be 10 billion and half the world’s countries will outgrow their water supply. People around the world identify access to clean water as the most serious environmental challenge facing the planet today. In sum, people globally recognize water as a key concern. The public and private sector has an important role to play in solving global water challenges, and that companies and others need to provide more information about what can be done to advance a better water future.

 Karen Janjua, Senior Program Advisor from Community World Service Asia highlighted the potential roles of social businesses in preservation of clean water and environment while also creating a cheap clean source of electricity.

The participants took keen interest in the topics discussed which made the sessions interactive as they raised questions and recommendations to the speakers.. James Clark, Public Affairs Officer at the High Commission of Canada shared in the concluding remarks,

Teaching to the public about importance of water conservation is very important in order to save this earth and to maintain quality of human life. We can all start saving water at home. Even if you feel overwhelmed about the global impacts of water scarcity and conservation, do what you can locally and encourage others to follow your lead.

Marvin Parvez is one of the firmest believers in the positive impact of humanitarian standards, as well as an expert practitioner within the Sphere community. Discussing his work as a long-time Pakistani humanitarian professional and as a Sphere partner in Asia, he shared his experience and talked about the many times he saw standards improve people’s lives in the aftermath of a crisis.

Marvin started his career working with the Tajik refugees fleeing into Afghanistan during the civil war. He got to know the Sphere standards in October 2005, when a major earthquake hit the Kashmir region. With devastation across India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Marvin took part in the disaster response as a staff member of Community World Service Asia (CWSA), a large humanitarian and development organization with projects in 11 Asian and Pacific countries.

CWSA was recognized as a Sphere regional partner in Asia in 2011. The organization started carrying out capacity-building, advocacy and dissemination activities across the region. Since then, CWSA has trained more than 8,000 relief workers from different backgrounds, showing them how the application of humanitarian standards in disaster response truly has a positive impact on the affected communities.

As regional representative, Marvin has had the opportunity to witness such impact and the implications for all the actors involved. “The agencies that adhere to the Sphere standards are different. The population has started to realize it”, Marvin explains. “It improves our relationship and credibility both with the communities and with the local government”, he adds.

CWSA has been deeply involved with the two most recent revisions of the Sphere Handbook, gathering input from practitioners all across Asia, contributing to the translation into local languages, and organizing multiple launch events for the 2011 edition. As a Sphere partner, the organization also works to build the capacity of other relief actors in the region and to encourage the local application of quality and accountability standards in both policy and practice.

“The main impact is among the community: this is the most important thing for us”, Marvin insists while wrapping up the interview. “Humanitarian aid should really be about putting people first, and Sphere helps us in doing that.”

Watch Marvin Parvez's full video interview

Teachers demonstrating lesson on child motivation, appreciating a teacher for her work.

“One can never learn enough”, it is often said and heard. The same applies to teachers; teaching and learning is a continuous process that goes hand in hand. Learning new methods and understanding the process of teaching leads to better teaching practices.

Passionate teachers understand that the greatest benefit of trainings to them is the large number of additional skills they acquire, allowing their lessons and classrooms to be more interactive, interesting and informative for their students.

For many teachers, making a positive difference in the lives of students is most valuable – the feelings of self-satisfaction as you watch your students grow and succeed due to your hard work and dedication in the field. To give an opportunity for such teachers to continue feeling valued, Community World Service Asia organized and conducted a five-days master teachers’ training on pedagogical & training skills under the Girls Education Project supported by partners, Act for Peace, in Sindh province, Pakistan.

After successfully completing three teacher training cycles on pedagogical skills in the Thatta district of Sindh, this training was categorized as an advance level for those teachers already trained. The five-day sessions aimed to strengthen teachers’ capacities on adult learning, teaching methods, professional teaching standards and lesson planning on daily, weekly, monthly and basis.

Twenty-five teachers from twenty government primary schools of Thatta participated in this workshop.  As a training of trainers of sorts, the purpose of this workshop was for teachers to develop specific expertise on developing model lessons and classrooms and further mentoring teachers in their respective schools on quality teaching methods and techniques.

Sessions on adult learning theory, types of learning styles and creative teaching methods were conducted for teachers where they were also specifically guided on ways to address learning needs of students as per their dominant learning style. Moreover, the need and importance of lesson planning was emphasized in the training sessions as it was realized that teachers often overlooked that and did not recognize the many benefits of this activity.  The teachers were taught on how to develop lesson plans at different stages of their yearly activities.

During the training, the teachers’ skills on class observation tools, reporting and delivering model lesson in schools was enhanced with a particular objective of increasing class participation and students’ involvement in practical learning. As part of the five-days workshop, the 25 teachers were taken on a field visit to a government primary school in Thatta. As one of activities, participants were required to observe teaching methods at the host school and record their observation on the checklist provided by the facilitator. Teachers also observed practical and learning environments seen in different classrooms and later discussed and delivered group presentations on the gaps recorded during the visit. One key observation from the field was that since there was no lesson planning, the lessons lacked clarity of flow and were ineffective and uninteresting for the students.

Teachers, with the support of the trainers, were asked to develop “model lessons” on the gaps observed during the field visit and deliver them as part of a group exercise. Some of the topics presented by the teachers included child motivation; classroom managements; and less responsiveness by teachers. Participants also developed action plans as part of the exercise, to implement active and practical learning in their schools. As a follow up to the training, the graduate master teachers planned to conduct these “model lessons” in their respective schools and would share its calculated impact with the facilitators of this training.

As a concluding sessions on the training’s final day, Rubab Shah, Tallaqua Education Officer (TEO) Thatta, awarded certificates to all the participants of the five-day teachers workshop and appreciated their participation as they shared their learnings with her. Rubab Shah further expressed,

These innovative trainings on pedagogical and training skills have been very significant in delivering quality orientated lessons using interactive methods.  I am glad to say that I have noticed visible changes in classrooms post such trainings as teachers have developed low cost learning material with and for the students.

Teachers’ Voices:

“I am happy to attend this training as I have acquired new knowledge that will help me in becoming a good teacher. The best part of the training was its methodology and taking us on a school visit and then helping us in developing model lessons. I was a bit hesitant in delivering lessons as a master teacher in front of all other teachers but the facilitators encouraged me and I delivered complete lessons successfully.” Seema, Primary School Teacher at Government Girls Primary School (GGPS) Muhammad Hanif Khushk.

“I believe such teachers’ training help a lot in improving classroom environments. Its adding to my experience as we get new opportunities to learn from other teachers’ experiences by interacting with them. The action planning section will help us immensely in improving our lesson planning and managing classes effectively.” Nasira Parveen, Primary School Teacher at Government Girls Primary School (GGPS) Jeelani Muhalla School.

“I’m grateful to the facilitators as I learnt new ways of improving learning and delivering quality lessons. I learnt classroom observation, lesson planning and interactive methods with students. I will apply this learning in my class and share with fellow teachers in my school.” Noor Jahan M. Baqar, Primary School Teacher at Government Girls Primary School (GGPS) Ali Muhammad Jokhio

We live a happy life in the village. I have five daughters and one son. All my children are married. My husband is a farmer who earns PKR 250 on a daily basis. The money earned is mostly consumed in food and household expenses. The income is therefore not sufficient and is difficult to make ends meet,

shared sixty year old Fatima, wife of Tayab, residing in Phul Jakhro village, Union Council Bijora, Tehsil and District Sujawal. Their son and his wife are mostly dependent upon them as well, as he only earns Rs. 50 per day.

I came to the Maternal Neonatal Child Health Center for my foot injury. While visiting my daughter who lives in a nearby village, I was attacked by a wild animal, which injured my foot very badly

shared Fatima. Fatima’s husband initially took her to Bello and Sujawal city for treatment, travelling far distances was costly and the additional treatment costs in the hospitals were burdensome.

After 15 days of treatment and medication, my foot was no better

she recalls,

I was in immense pain. My husband then took me to Sujawal city and the doctors advised me to get it operated upon, as the infection had grown worse and they wanted to amputate it.

Fatima and her husband were very worried and had lost hope. Her son advised her to go to the Maternal Neonatal Child Health Center (MNCH) in Ranta,

My son’s wife has visited the MNCH for healthcare and therefore he was very satisfied with the services the health center was providing,

said a satisfied Fatima. The Maternal Neonatal Health Center is providing basic health services for the villagers residing in nearby areas, with special focus on women and children.

The MNCH provides good health services at very minimal cost of fees. The doctor treated my foot. The doctor treated me with injections, medicines and daily intra-septic dressing. I was treated for 15 days on regular basis. I then visited the MNCH once every week for a month. My foot healed completely and I was able to walk without pain again. The health staff at the MNCH was very cooperative and active.

Fatima fully recovered and she recommends every villager residing nearby to avail timely treatment at the MNCH in Ranta village.

Women in the rural village of Kando in Umerkot, Sindh were a living example of what rural women in patriarchal societies are often stereotyped as: subservient, financially dependent, and restricted to their homes. Remarkably, much of this changed for the women of Kando village after a vocational training centre teaching sewing and embroidery skills, basic literacy and gender awareness sessions, was set up.

Chandri Ladho, a thirty-two year old mother and a resident of Kando, heard about the vocational center from the president of the village’s Steering Committee. She was compelled to find out more about it. After acing her assessment test for the admission to the vocational center, Chandri started learning at the centre and subsequently worked as the Quality Assurance Supervisor (QAS) at the centre. As a QAS, Chandri ensures that artisans reproduce a product if fails to deliver the set standards of quality.

As a trained artisan herself at the centre, Chandri has received many orders since she joined the vocational training center. Enhancing her sewing skills has allowed Chandri to generate a higher income for her family. She receives a monthly stipend of PKR 1600 and is currently working on a piece that will sell at PKR 10,000. Chandri attested,

The six month training was mind opening. I did not know there were so many stitches through which various designs could be developed. It was at the center that I learned six different stitches and various color combinations that improved the products I made and its value.

Chandri, along with all the other women registered at the center received literacy sessions. These sessions enabled them to read and write, and to communicate in Urdu. Before, they could only communicate in their native language which is Sindhi.

Although Chandri is now a skillful artisan and a confident entrepreneur, she was not always this way. She has been through a rich learning journey. Chandri lived  mundane life, in which she would send her child to school everyday, then help with his homework. She would go to collect water, clean her house, cooking all three meals, and wash clothes. This was her regular routine, and sometimes when time would allow, Chandri would do basic sewing for fellow villagers and would roughly earn about PKR 1,200 a month depending on the number of orders she received.

Chandri’s husband, Ladho, works in a garment factory in Karachi and earns a monthly income of PKR 10,000. He keeps half of his salary to cover his living expenses in Karachi and sends the rest to his family back home. To avoid the hefty travel expenses, Ladho visits his family once every four months. For the family to survive and meet all expenses within PKR 5000 was close to impossible but they struggled and somehow managed to make ends meet. It was very difficult to pay for their six-year-old son’s nursery school and tuition fees and affording health care was out of the question. But they prioritized their son’s education and squeezed all other expenses in what was left.

In addition to the family’s regular expenses, they were also burdened with meeting the financial strain of Chandri’s maternal issues. In order to experience a safe pregnancy, Chandri has to receive monthly medical treatment, costing PKR 3,000. Because she could not afford to receive consistent treatment, she aborted three of her babies within their first three months. It has been five years since she had a baby.

Since Chandri joined the centre and started earning, she was able to save some money and afford her regular medical treatment.  Now, Chandri is five months pregnant and is excited to be able to healthily conceive and deliver a baby after all these years.

Ladho and his mother supported Chandri’s participation in the training center since they knew it would be favorable to the family’s economic conditions. And right they were, not only has it benefited the family, but it has also positively impacted Kando village.

Chandri narrated,

Before the villagers attended awareness sessions on gender issues and rights, the women were not allowed to meet anyone from outside their villages, not even other women and not even very nearby villages. Women were only allowed to visit the local hospital with their husbands. Both these scenarios have changed for the better since the village residents have been sensitized on gender issues.

Women from neighboring villages now meet regularly with the women of Kando village and they chat, discuss new ideas and work on handicraft projects together. Chandri further shared,

Many of us engaged in basic stitching at home whenever we got the time. It was time consuming, as we individually worked on orders. Now, we work together in the center. We are able to help each other and improve as a team. Working together is definitely better than working individually. We finish our orders on time and the quality of the work has also improved, increasing our value and demand of our products.

The men of Kando village now allow the girls and women of their community to receive an education and work on such enterprises. Women no longer have to wait for men to accompany them on hospital visits. Instead, women gather in groups and visit the hospital whenever they need. This way they do not need to wait for a man to accompany them in cases of emergency.

Chandri’s participation in family discussions and household decisions was not encouraged earlier. She was silences by her husband if she tried to voice her opinions in front of others, specially other men in the family.  It was after the family took part in some of the gender sessions at the centre that Chandri became more open to expressing her opinions and started being active in family decision making. In Fact Ladho now encourages her to contribute to family discussions and even asks her about her work and how it’s going. Chandri concluded,

It is important for women to earn and support their households financially. It makes life easier. Women must be strong and independent when their husbands are away to earn money in other cities. In the time of emergencies, she must be able to emotionally and financially support her family to overcome the hurdles. My involvement in the vocational centre has made me a strong woman and I am able to support my family, which makes me a proud mother.

Farmers learning about the Hydroponic Cultivation method at the research institute

Under the Food Security[1]project initiated in Badin, Sindh in 2015, continuous technical support and business development services are provided to rural farmers to achieve high quality agricultural production in order to promote agri-based enterprises. To further strengthen the skills and expertise of these agrarian communities, an exposure visit to the Arid Zone Research Institute (AZRI) in Umerkot was organized in the last week of February this year. The visit was conducted in three groups, one day allocated to each group. Sixty farmers, nineteen men and forty-three women, from three Union Councils (UC) of Badin participated in the visit. Project staff and AZRI officials facilitated the visit.

Dr. Atta Ullah, Director AZRI, welcomed each group at the start of their exposure visit and briefed them on the importance of sustainable agriculture and the various methods they will be exploring at the institute. At the AZRI, the farmers observed many ongoing researches and activities underway. Some of these included kitchen gardening activities using the drip irrigation system, pitcher gardening schemes, solar desalination units and hydroponic cultivation systems.

The Drip Irrigation System and ways of cultivating vegetables using this system was explained to the farmers.  This irrigation method was introduced during a time of water scarcity in the area. It was through this system that 70 percent of the water was saved at the time. Many vegetables, namely tomato, garlic, onion, spinach and coriander are cultivated through this technique.

Farmers learnt how saline water is converted into drinking water using the Solar Desalination Unit at the institute. Eight liters of saline water is converted into drinking water each day, making this technology highly useful in area that lack clean water.

The farmers from Badin found the Hydroponic Cultivation method most interesting as this was very new to them. Hydroponics is a subset of hydroculture, which is the growing of plants in a soilless medium, or in an aquatic based environment. Hydroponic growing uses mineral nutrient solutions to feed the plants in water, without requiring any soil. The staff at the AZRI shared with the farmers that the use of hydroponics had increased since pesticides and other toxins produced during traditional farming practices increased the risks of damage to crops.  Plants produced by hydroponic techniques do not have any pesticides; therefore they are absolutely safe for human consumption. Qadir Bux Mirza, one of the farmers from UC Khair Pur Gambo, Badin remarked,

Hydroponic cultivation was a completely new innovation for me as I never knew such a quick way of growing nutritious fodder like maize, wheat and oat for animals even existed. I plan to implement this new technique of farming when i return to my lands.

Other units such as the Bio fertilizer Mill and Compost Making, Drip irrigation for the Crafted Jujube Orchard and Bio Remediation System where wastewater is treated and used for irrigation purposes were also shown in detail to the farmers’ group. They were sensitized on the use of biofertilizers as one of the most important components of integrated nutrient management, being cost effective as well as being a renewable source of nutrients to supplement chemical fertilizers.  Plantations of date palm, agro forestry of arid trees, nursery garden of different grasses, shrubs & trees were also shown to the farmers during their visit.

Staff at the AZRI encouraged the farmers from Badin to adopt agricultural practices that use less water as Badin is facing a major scarcity of irrigation water. They further advocated the growing of crops and orchards which require less water. The farmers were enriched with learning new techniques of farming including drip irrigation, drought resistant plants and development of fodders by the end of the exposure visit.

Rabia Khatoon, a kitchen gardener from Babar Kaloi village of UC Khairpur Gambo, shared,

It was amazing to see such a large variety of fodder that can be grown with limited use of water. This is highly beneficial for farmers like us who reside in water scarce areas. I have also been provided with some seeds which I will grow on my field. In addition, I will share my learning with other farmers in my village so that everyone can benefit from these new techniques of sustainable farming.

[1] Promoting Sustainable Agriculture Practices to Improve Food Security and Livelihoods of Vulnerable and Marginalized Farmers of Badin Project implemented by Community World Service Asia. The project is co-funded the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) and Presbyterian World Service & Development (PWS&D). Special thanks to the government of Canada for supporting this project.

Group Photo of alumni students of University of Sindh of the Social Media management Training in Mirpurkhas.

A series of trainings on Social Media Management for alumni students of the Youth United for Change network from different universities across Pakistan were held in the cities of Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Lahore and Faisalabad. The trainings aimed at enhancing the knowledge of students and graduates on social media, its key tools, its impact and usability for bringing positive changes and awareness.

Popular social media campaigns and their impact were shared with participants. Through assignments and interactive exercises alumni students were guided on how to plan and develop their own successful social media campaigns on social causes, awareness issues and development goals. Inspiring and innovative video and photo campaigns successfully run on social media platforms by UN agencies, international aid organizations, CSOs and global academic networks were shown to participants to get inspiration from. Group activities on developing informative viral campaigns, #Hashtag activism, infographic development and creating facebook pages encouraged students to bring out their creativity and put on their thinking hats. At the same time, these youth representatives were cautioned on the cons of mis-using social media and the ethical considerations to take while developing and implementing campaigns on social networks.  A significant session of the training emphasized on using social media tools to share knowledge on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to develop campaigns that would help us achieve the global goals unitedly as a nation.

Students’ Corner:

“Youth must be united for progress and development of their country and in today’s age social media is the most effective and engaging platform which is easily used and available to everyone. Together we can bring positive change through innovative social media and #hashtag campaigns,”  Mohammad Shebaz, alumni of University of Sindh, Mirpurkhas Campus.

“The training was very fruitful. The facilitator of the training delivered all sessions effectively and efficiently for us to build a clear understanding of social media and how to use it. We learnt to use social media ethically as well which most of us overlook and do not take concern of. These kind of trainings fulfill the need of today’s society where social media is frequently used by most individuals, especially youth,” Ajay K. Rathore, alumni of University of Sindh, Mirpurkhas Campus.

“This experience was very informative, creative and productive. We learnt new ways of interacting in different social media sites and how to make our content effective and eye-catching.” Maham Ansar, alumni of University of Sindh, Jamshoro.

“The way of delivering sessions step by step was helpful to understand the different terms and sites of social media. In a short period of one day, we managed to gain interesting facts regarding the techniques of using social media which we were initially unaware of.” Hoorab Ansar, alumni of University of Sindh, Jamshoro.

“Being an Alumni Member, this training was very helpful as social media has become one of the main modes of media to get connected globally. The frequent use of social media is productive and impactful, for youth especially. The training helped in understanding blogs and article writing and how to start campaigns within ethical boundaries. Furthermore, it helped to understand getting over the distance gap and stay connected and united with youth from the South-Asian region through social media platforms. It also enabled me to develop effective and productive messaging for positive social changes in the region.” Mahnoor, alumni of University of Sindh, Mirpurkhas Campus.

 

My husband works as a laborer in a construction company in Iran. He earns a daily wage of AFN 500 (Approx. 7 USD). I live alone with my two sons and one daughter in Afghanistan,

shared Asma sadly. The mother of two sons and a daughter, Asma lives with her children in Mashinna village, located in Qurghaie district of the Laghman province in Afghanistan. Her husband sends her money on a monthly basis but his low income is insufficient to bear all the household expenses. Asma has hardly been able to save money for health care emergencies of her own or her children and with no health facility nearby, travelling to distant hospitals has been out of the question.

When Asma was pregnant with her third child, her husband could not stay till her delivery and had to fly back to Iran for work. Being alone and economically bound, Asma would have had no one to assist her during the delivery of her third baby. Fortunately, a lady Community Health Worker (CHW) came to her when she was in her third trimester and informed her about the maternal and neonatal health assistance provided in the Nowdamorra Sub-Health Center (SHC) which is located near to their village.  The health worker thoroughly examined her and prescribed her multivitamins and micronutrient pills. Asma was told about the safe delivery services and antenatal and postnatal care provided at the health facility and was then registered as a patient in the sub-health centre. She was advised to visit the health center regularly for antenatal care.

As a patient registered with the SHC, Asma received regular and quality antenatal Care throughout her last trimester. She came to the SHC for regular checkups and was prescribed micronutrient medication. A midwife at the SHC conducted health and hygienic sessions for Asma and other expecting mothers from the village and shared a suggested diet chart with them, advising them to eat food that was healthy and nutritious for them and their babies. Thus, Asma was well-informed on the prevention of risk factors during pregnancy and delivery.

In July 2017, Asma delivered a healthy baby girl with the assistance of a skilled midwife and nurse at the Nowdamorra health centre. Asma regularly visits the SHC for postnatal care where she receives family planning and breastfeeding sessions. In addition, she was also given a diet chart to follow for a period of six months postpartum.

The staff at the health facility is very cooperative and facilitated me timely resulting in the safe delivery of my beautiful daughter.

*The Nowdamorra Sub-health centre is among six sub health centres established in four districts of Laghman province in Afghanistan by Community World Service Asia and financially supported by PWS & D.

Training Sessions for Female on CMST is underway

The provision of medical facilities to rural areas has been a major developmental objective of Pakistan.  The government has undertaken several programs to train and deploy women doctors, lady health visitors, and dispensers in their health facilities in the rural areas of the country. However, district Umerkot in Sindh, similar to many other rural districts in Pakistan, is faced with a severe shortage of human resources in the medical sector. Community World Service Asia is addressing this limitation through implementing effective and affordable interventions so that progress towards SDG Goal 3, on achieving health and well being, is successfully met.

In its third year of implementing a Health Project in Umerkot, with the financial support of Act for Peace (AFP) and PWS&D, this project was initiated after consultation and coordination with the all district health authorities and local communities in Umerkot. Rural Health Centres (RHCs) in three villages of Umerkot have been set up to respond to a broad range of health issues including general hygiene, communicable disease prevention, awareness on safe motherhood and safe deliveries, vaccination for women and children, breastfeeding, family planning and access to safe drinking water.

Six Health Committees, comprising of men and women of the communities have been formed in the villages of Nabisar Road, Hyderfarm and Dhoronaro in Umerkot. These are the villages where each RHC is established. Each of these health committees consists of ten members from each village. An advocacy forum, made of ten health activists, has also been set up at the district level to address emerging health issues and to facilitate the successful functionality of the health centres. These activists represent government line departments, civil society organizations and the local community from the catchment areas of where the health facilities are established. Acknowledging the significance of community engagement, the advocacy forum and its work is seen as a back bone for the success of the project and key to providing sustainability to the health centres.

The training titled, Community Management Skill Trainings (CMST), was designed for members of the village health committees to strengthen their capacities on health issues and clearly define their roles and responsibilities. Health committee members were expected to clearly identify health related problems of their village and establish linkages with line department and prioritize health concerns on their own after taking the training.

Altogether, a series of six, two day trainings on CMST with all the village health committee members. In each of the three locations, separate two day training sessions for men and women were conducted. In addition, a one-day orientation session on Leadership Management Skills Training (LMST) was also conducted for the representatives of each line department, civil society organizations and the local community.  A total of ten participants attended this training.

With enhancing the awareness, skills and capabilities of the participants, the training aimed for the Health committees to better plan and manage their relevant activities and effectively utilize the local resources available to them. It also provided the participants an opportunity to strengthen their abilities to work towards breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and overcome communal health concerns, specifically that of women and children.

The purpose of empowering the health advocacy forums is to facilitate positive change and to see development of new policies that will tackle unmet and emerging health needs at district level.

In total six, two days CMST training sessions were conducted with the village committee members. In each of the three locations, two days training session for men and two days training session for women were conducted. 30 males, 10 each from the three locations and 30 women, 10 each from the three locations participated in the training. Apart from that, a one-day orientation session on Leadership Management Skills Training (LMST) was conducted for the representative of line department, civil society and communities. In total 10 participants attended this training which included one woman and nine male members.