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Before construction, the road was narrow and the ground was not leveled.

Community World Service Asia is working in partnership with Christian Aid towards making the hazard prone communities of Thatta more resilient to disasters and its impacts through various participatory activities. Under this project, small mitigation schemes have been designed to provide access and safe evacuation to make communities more resilient to flooding, cyclones and other natural hazards.

Following a series of meetings between community mobilization and community based Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) teams, the design and implementation of the mitigation scheme for Raeem Dino Thaheem village was planned.  After attending the Village Development Training conducted in May this year, the Village Organization (VO) of Raeem Dino Thaheem listed down the issues faced in the village on priority basis. Referring to this list, the project team decided to work on reconstructing the main road linking the village to Bello and Darro city.

Laborers to work on the road construction were selected from amongst the VO members of the village in question. A total of ten VO members from Raeem Dino worked on leveling the ground and widening the road through earth-filling. These laborers worked effortlessly for ten days under the cash for work scheme of the project. As a result, the road was successfully completed within the timeline, benefiting approximately 1500 people residing in Raeem Dino Thaeem and nearby villages.

Ali Hassan, a member of the Rahim Dino Thaheem VO, expressed,

Being part of the construction activity gave me a sense of ownership. We worked hard so that the whole community can benefit as a result.  I appreciate this project’s team to provide us with this platform, enabling us to work for the betterment of our own people.

DurationSep 01, 2007May 31, 2008
LocationKeti Bandar and Kharochan Talukas of Thatta district in Sindh Provicne
Key Activities
  • Installations of 225 (two hundred twenty-five) Abyar hand pumps (where water table is accessible up to 30-40 feet)
  • Installations of 16 (sixteen) Jiyapo hand pumps (where water table is very deep and above 50 feet)
  • Conduct 37 (thirty-seven) health and hygiene awareness sessions
  • Distribution of 2,200 (two thousand two hundred) hygiene kits
  • Distribution of 4,400(four thousand four hundred) Jerry Cans (each 20 litre)
ParticipantsApprox. 80,000 individuals

DurationSep 01, 2011Nov 30, 2012
LocationUC Bijora, Sujawal, Jaar, Keenjar of district Thatta
Key Activities
  • Health and hygiene sessions, Rehabilitation of water courses, drainages and ponds
  • Provision of nadi filters
  • Installation of 40 hand pumps
Participants13,856 individuals

DurationJul 01, 2016Jun 30, 2017
LocationThatta & Umerkot Districts, Sindh
Key Activities
  • Two 5-day training on pedagogical techniques and classroom management for 50 teachers
  • Two 5-day Master Teachers’ Trainings for 30 Master Teachers
  • Two three-day refresher training workshops for 50 teachers
  • 30 follow-up visits conducted by Master Trainers
  • Two 3-day civic Education camps for 60 students and 10 teachers
Participants110 including teachers and students

Akhtawar, is a 19 year old artisan who dreams to become a professional handicrafts manufacturer. Belonging to Raeem Dino Thaeem village in Thatta, Akhtawar lives in a joint family system, with eighteen members living in one house. Five of them her own siblings.

My elder brother is a teacher at a private school located in Bello City. He earns PKR 1500 (US $ 15 approx.) a month. He is also a member of the Gender-based violence (GBV) and Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) theater groups formed in our village. He earns  PKR 1500 per day for his performances. Our father is an agricultural farmer, harvesting crops including wheat and rice. He owns the land but buys seeds on loan as he cannot afford to buy them. This way the loan is returned in the form of harvested crops. Most of the harvest is given to the seeds seller in order to repay the loan.

Community World Service Asia’s and Christian Aid’s livelihoods project came to Raeem Dino Thaeem village with an aim to empower the local women and assist them in earning a better living by enhancing their inborn skills of stitching and embroidery. To initiate the project, an assessment test was conducted to select artisans for the vocational trainings. Many women from the local villages took the tests to be selected. Akhtawar was amongst those who passed the assessment test and was selected as a participating artisan under the enhancing livelihoods project in Thatta.

The three month Adult Literacy Training enlightened many uneducated women in the village. I passed my matriculation but some women at the centre had never received any schooling since their families could not afford it . They could barely afford their household and medical expenses. The literacy training enabled the artisans to learn basic Mathematics, English and Urdu. Many of the artisans wrote their names for the first time in English. My aunt also received the literacy training and she used the learning to teach her own school going children at home. I also teach my younger brother and sisters. I even teach my mother who learns as eagerly as my siblings. My uncle was so pleased to see how well we read and understand the course books.

Before the trainings, Akhtawar stitched clothes at home without the use of any sewing tools.

It was at the skill development training that we learnt to use sewing tools. We usually measured the clothes directly on the body and cut accordingly. Therefore the fitting of the clothes was never accurate. We learnt to use measuring tapes at the skill development training at the center. The quality of my stitching and apparel fitting improved immensely. On the other hand, we learnt new designs and threadwork which enhanced our embroidery skills bringing variety to our work and increasing its value.

Akhtawar has received many personal orders from neighbours and other residents of nearby villages since she graduated from the training centre. Young and determined Akhtawar has already worked on completing orders for some of Pakistan’s famed fashion designers such as Shayan, Imrana from Indus Valley Schools of Arts and Architecture (IVS), Habitt, Najia and Nida Azwer.

I have earned an estimate amount of PKR 8000. My mother is ill and requires medicines at all times. After some tests, the doctor told us that my mother’s brain is weak and prescribed some medicines. The expense of travelling to the hospital in Tando Allah Yar and tests were all borne by me. This made me very emotional as I never thought I would ever be able to help my family this way. In addition, I also paid the admission fees of PKR 1000 for my brother’s English Language course for which he travels to Bello City. I also contribute to his monthly school fees which of PKR 500.

According to Akhtawar, the input and participation of women in their village has mostly been limited to their homes. The only way they sometimes contributed was through farming which is exhausting  during the scorching sun in the day. T

he crops we harvested or the money earned through the sale of the crops was mostly paid off in loans, so very little was saved for the family to use. The vocational center enabled me to contribute to my family of eighteen members. I proudly contribute in the household, education and medical expenses and my parents and siblings are pleased with my growth and financial independence.

Akhtawar’s elder brother and sister, Rahim and Bakhtawar, are members of a theater group as well which performs to raise awareness on issues of SRH/GBV.

Initially my father did not support the idea, but when he attended some performances and witnessed the change in the rigid minds of many villagers, he too supported my siblings in their work.

Many men in these communities are conservative but many have gradually started engaging and participating in the theatre plays as performers and spectators.

I watched the first theater performance in November last year when the group performed in our village. The men in the village were surprised to know how young girls’ health are badly affected by child marriages. They were not aware of the health and mental issues a young girl goes through when married early. I was astonished to see the change in men when they refused to marry their young daughters after watching these plays. Today, many encourage their daughters to join schools or vocational centers in order to build a better future for themselves. In addition, mothers’ consent started being taken before entertaining  marriage proposals for their daughters.

Both of Akhtawar’s parents fully support their children in actively participating  in activities that are helping to bring positive changes in their community and society. Akhtawar shared that girls in her village did not travel faraway places for any reason.

My father permitted Rahim and Bakhtawar to attend the SRH/GBV training in Hyderabad for 10 days. He encouraged them to bring back knowledge and new learnings which will enlighten the conservative minds of the villagers.

Ali Hassan (Akhtawar’s father has been supportive towards bringing positive change as he believes in educating people who have not been fortunate enough to gain such opportunities.

Life has changed a lot since our involvement in the livelihood project. I work as an artisan and my brother and sister are part of the theater group. We also travel to attend trainings whenever we get an opportunity. This initiative has given a new meaning to our lives. Girls were caretakers of their home and this was the concept we were living by. But after theater performances and women working in the vocational centera, women have realized that, like men, they can also earn and support their families, and live a better life. Women can also go out in the world and explore opportunities to have a better future for them and their children,’

openly expressed Akhtawar.

 

A seminar promoting breastfeeding among local communities in rural Sindh was held during the World Breastfeeding week at the three Rural Health Centres, supported by Community World Service Asia and Act for Peace. A large number of community members consisting of women and men and government health department officials took part at the various sessions of the seminar at the RHCs in Hyderfarm, Nabisar and Dhoronaro. The seminar was facilitated and sessions were delivered by experienced Medical Superintendents (MSs) and Community World Service Asia health team on the importance and benefits of breastfeeding. This was organized to encourage more and more women to breastfeed for longer periods and to not consider it a taboo.

Key points highlighted at the seminar were:

  • WHO recommend that babies are exclusively breastfed for 6 months and solid foods are started after that, along with continuing breastfeeding for two years and longer
  • Breastfeeding provides the ideal amount of nutrition for infants. It is a perfect combination of vitamins, protein and fat – everything that the baby needs for a healthy development
  • Breast milk consists of antibodies that help babies fight viruses and bacteria
  • Babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months without being given any formula milk are less prone to infections and illnesses
  • Breast milk is easily digestible and is also known to be a contributing factor towards higher IQ scores later in childhood
  • Breastfed babies are considered to have a healthy weight with less chances of obesity later on
  • Breastfeeding also helps the mother to lose pregnancy weight faster

An FM radio campaign on monsoon preparedness has been initiated on FM 92 by Community World Service Asia considering the Monsoon outlook issued by the Pakistan Meteorological Department. Community World Service Asia is executing this campaign with the support of Christian Aid and in close coordination with the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), Sindh. The radio messages are aired six times a day and reaches 12.2 million people in twelve districts of Sindh.

This radio campaign has been appreciated and acknowledged by the Director General, PDMA.

Click here to listen

Student performed different plays and tableaus focusing on disaster management.

Children are change agents and providing them with training to enhance their knowledge and skills is essential to help them grow and develop. Similarly, children living in disaster prone areas, need to be trained on disaster risk reduction (DRR) methods to make them resilient towards the adverse impact of disasters.

Frequent occurrence of onset disasters make children vulnerable as they are adversely affected and their lives disturbed. In such situations a lack of DRR awareness makes things even worse.  Under Community World Service Asia’s project, supported by Christian Aid in Thatta, collaboration is done with schools to develop a platform for young children to enhance their knowledge and skills on DRR through various trainings and activities, making  them more resilient to future disasters.

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction highlighted the importance of education and public awareness being critical in promoting a culture of resilience at all levels.  Furthermore, commitments were made at the second session of Global Platform for DRR (2009) to provide safer schools by including DRR in all school curricula. Considering the importance of public awareness, a DRR Carnival, organized at the Government Boys Public School (GPPS) in Main Sindhi Chandia, Sujawal, was organized to provide an opportunity to young children to present their DRR work. A Mobile Knowledge & Resource Center (MKRC) truck and DRR models were displayed at the exhibit, with brief sessions on simulation models carried out live.

The main purpose of the event, celebrated on 25th May, 2017, was to engage teachers and students from different schools to hear about their experiences; how they implemented DRR in their schools and how it contributed to making their schools safer. A student of class 4, Iffat Mehmood Khattati, opened the event by the recitation of the Holy Quran with Sindhi translation. She recited Surah Feeal, a surah focused on disaster.

Nisar Ahmed Memon, Head Master GBPS Main Sindhi Chandia, welcomed all the participants on behalf of the school administration. Nisar Memon highlighted the theme of the event saying,

“In partnership with Community World Service Asia, I am pleased to announce that we have successfully conducted School Safety Trainings in various schools in Sujawal. We have a long disaster history in our area. Therefore, we must prepare ourselves, our families and our communities to tackle these disasters to reduce our loss.”

Students of GBPS Main Sindhi Chandia performed a welcome tableau for the guests, teachers and students at the event. The play was focused on a Sindhi Legend singer, late Jala Chandio. The purpose of the performance was to pay respect and honor to the Sindhi Traditions.

Community World Service Asia staff appreciated GBPS Amin Sindhi Chandia School for organizing this impactful event and reiterated the importance of training children on DRR as

“students today are the leaders and change-makers of tomorrow.”

After the students’ performance, Naseem Khuskh, a teacher at one of the schools,  recalled the tragic memories of the Kashmir Earthquake (2005) in which the death rate of children was very high.

“As a teacher, I feel that students require the most attention at times of disasters. They suffer socially and psychologically. DRR Trainings are preparing students for emergency situations, making them more confident and  prepared during disasters.”

Khud Bux Behrani, Deputy Director Social Welfare, Thatta, also shared his views speaking at the carnival,

“In my experience, I have witnessed that children are the most vulnerable in under-developed societies. Government schools in our area are poorly established with no mechanism of evacuation at times of disasters. Therefore, I encourage organizations and school administrations to extend the role of DRR to build resilient societies and reduce losses and damages.”

Tufail Ahmed Temro, Taluka Education Officer, added to Behrani’s statement,

“Learning by doing; if students are involved in such trainings and drill activities, they will learn faster. There is a lack of extra-curriculum activities to supplement academic learning. I would request the  Community World Service Asia team to bring more such programs and trainings to our schools to improve the quality of education here.”

“Our team of volunteers have taken a lead in delivering awareness sessions on Malaria and its preventive measures in our area of Kheeral, Bijori,”

taking the opportunity to share information at a public platform,  Muhammad Hanif Walhro, President LSO Kheeral, talked about the initiative of LSOs taken in the context of DRR. He added that volunteers from the communities have been trained on rescue and response for future disasters.

A total of five hundred guests, including students and teachers from various schools, government officials and other stakeholders, actively participated at the event.  Two display stalls were set up which exhibited different equipment used at times of various disasters. DRR themed paintings made by students of GBPS Main Sindhi Chandia, Sujawal were also on display. Guests at the carnival were also shown the Mobile Knowledge & Resource Center (MKRC) and were oriented on the different kinds of disasters and the effects they leave behind in communities.

Improving teachers’ skills and knowledge is seen as one of the most important investments, of time and resources, that local, state, and civil leaders can make to education.

“The Teachers Training and the Master Teacher Training conducted by Community World Service Asia, was a new experience of professional development for us. With its focus ranging from classroom processes and structures to teachers’ personal and teaching traits, it taught us a lot. It was a learning opportunity for us teachers that was explicitly aimed at enhancing teaching skills and increasing student achievement,”

 expressed Hameeda Memon, a 42 years old teacher at the Government Girls Primary School, Civil Hospital, Thatta.

Hameeda has been teaching for 23 years and has always been passionate about teaching.

“I was not familiar with the various teaching methods I learnt at the training. Our students have mostly been engaged in mindless memorization. The lessons were not properly understood and the students studied enough to achieve passing marks only.  I wanted the students to enjoy their work but was unable to encourage them towards building interest in academic books,” added Hameeda, “In the teachers training, we were taught various theories and methodologies like students. We were the students this time. Morning meeting exercises and role play activities were conducted. We engaged in group activities and learnt how to develop low and cost no learning material. All this involvement through the interactive exercises increased our interest in teaching. That was when I realized how important it is to engage students in practical activities like these to keep their minds and bodies fresh to comprehend lessons better and achieve greater outcomes.”

Sessions on Gender education and Health Hygiene and Environment were the most informative and appealing content for Hameeda.

“It was the first time for me to learnt about these topics. We all were aware of the terms but we never studied them in our context. I now believe that these topics should be included in the curriculum to increase student’s knowledge on it as well. Teachers’ should emphasize on gender education and hygiene like they do on discipline and class work.”

Hameeda feels more confident and prepared about our classes after receiving the training.

“The Master Teacher Training was more about teaching methods and adult learning. It focused on planning and reporting skills of teachers for better class presentation and school management. These trainings have influenced our classroom practices significantly and have lead to improved student achievement. Zia, a student in my class, was very weak in her studies. She rarely spoke in the class and had difficulty in understanding her lessons. After the morning meetings and role plays, she started to speak up and participate in conversations. Today, she sits in the first row of the class and manages the black board and charts displayed in the classroom. Likewise, I have given other students certain responsibilities for classroom management. This ownership has motivated students to be more attentive.”

“Learning is a continuous process; more learning leads to better results. Even as teachers, we have a lot to learn and there is always room for improvement. If we are trained, we will deliver our lessons efficiently and more effectively, with the result being, our students benefiting in the long run. In addition, the reputation of the school will improve and the enrolment of students will increase. It’s a cycle of improvement at every stage. That’s why trainings like these should be an on-going process,”

concluded Hameeda with a positive attitude.

Mithal, a 45-year-old widow and mother to a 13 years old son, lives in Phul Jhakro village located in Thatta district, Sindh. Her son and her live with her mother and brother, who is often unwell and unable to bring home a regular income. The family is therefore faced with severe financial crises throughout the year. As a means of income, Mithal worked in the agricultural fields picking chilies and cotton and grazed crops.  The floods that hit southern Pakistan in 2010 destroyed those lands and its crops, shrinking the earnings of the family even further, forcing them to live in sub-standard conditions.

Responding to the floods, Community World Service Asia initiated relief and recovery projects in Phul Jhakro village and conducted Disaster Risk Reduction(DRR) Trainings in 2011.

“Many villagers attended the DRR training and I was one of the participants as well. The trainings were very helpful as various exercises were conducted in order to minimize the devastating effects a disaster leaves behind. These trainings have made us more aware and prepared for any kind of disaster including fire, floods and earthquakes,”

added Mithal.

Mithal proudly added that after the informative and life-saving DRR interventions, many of her fellow villagers started to become more open-minded and started welcoming new ideas and learnings.

“We established a school in our village in order to promote education amongst our children. The teacher belonged from our village as well. Disaster Risk Reduction Trainings are given in schools as well which has built an additional knowledge and has made our children more aware in relation to disaster management.”

Observing the keen interest and rapid learning of the people of Phul Jhakro, soon after, a vocational training center, conducting Adult literacy classes for women for the first three months, was established.  Earlier, Mithal gave thumb impressions as her identification as she was unable to read or write. At the Adult Literacy Trainings, she learnt to read, write, and calculate basic mathematics. She could also sign her name now. Mithal was appointed as the monitor of her class which gave her even more confidence and motivation.

“This training enhanced my educational skills giving me the confidence to speak to other people and negotiate while taking handicraft orders.”

Mithal said that many women in her village were unable to read and write as most did not go to school for basic education but now things have changed.

“The center conducted a three month Vocational training which focused on enhancing our stitching and designing skills. We were taught about family colors and how to use light and dark colors together to form vibrant designs which are both appealing and beautiful. A variety of new techniques were also taught, including appliqué work and cushion embroidery. Different stitches were practiced including Kacho Stitch, Lazy Dazy Stitch, Moti Stitch and Pakko Stitch. I enjoyed working on the cushion designs as it was new to me and I found the work to be very elegant.”

Establishing and promoting the indigenous and national handicraft industry has benefits for all. Not only does it provide additional employment locally but also raises the living standards of both rural and urban populations. As part of the livelihoods and Women empowerment projects supported by Community World Service Asia and its partners, exposure visits were conducted where rural artisans met with urban buyers of Bhit Shah and Karachi. Mithal was among those who were an active part of these visits.

“The exposure visits to Bhit Shah and Karachi further developed my understanding and broadened my knowledge about the handicrafts market. In Bhit Shah, I experienced the work of block printing on Ajraks which was completely new to me. Initially we did embroidery on the neck lines of shirts only. The exposure visit to Karachi enhanced our perception and we learnt to do embroidery on shirt borders, waist coats, bags, cushion covers and other open pieces of cloth. We now know how to keep samples of our work for future use and display for buyers.”

Mithal also attended the training conducted at the campus of Textile Institute of Pakistan in Karachi, where she learnt how to make high fashion shirts, jeans and different designs of Kurtis.

The same artisans were then given an order of products to produce for a Fashion Show that would launch their handicrafts brand to the fashion and textile market in Lahore. Working on the production of those products was a completely different experience according to Mithal.

“We made laces with various designs of embroidery, Muko and Zari work. We were not aware of what the final product, using our designs and embellishments, would look like. On my way to Lahore for the Fashion Show, I kept wondering what our pieces will be used for and how it will look, what kind of response our work would get. When we got to the venue of the event in Lahore (the Pakistan Fashion Design Council), we saw the finished products for the first time; those included sarees, shirts, kurtis, lehngas (long skirts), long coats, waistcoats, trousers, bags and scarves. We were amazed to see the complete products and how the laces and embroidery pieces were used to make such a beautiful collection. We did this I thought to myself in disbelief!”

 Mithal had never in her life gotten the chance to showcase her work and talent at such a high profile event which made her even more nervous regarding peoples’ expectation and response to her work. Mithal excitedly expressed,

“It was a wonderful feeling to see our work on the ramp. The zari, muko and embroidery work on the laces was immensely appreciated by the designers and guests at the event.”

As Mithal shared, the women of their area have always been entirely dependent on the men in their family to go out of their homes.

“This concept has changed and I now travel independently on my own. I have travelled to Karachi and Lahore. My first airplane trip to Lahore was one of the best experiences of my life. I was extremely excited to travel so far from home to promote my work further. My brother has been very supportive throughout my journey. Many villagers discouraged him not to allow me to travel on my own and promote my work. But my brother always encouraged me to move forward with my talent as I was working for a positive cause and change, for the betterment of our lives.”

Mithal now receives many orders as the demand for her designing and embroidery has increased. She has received orders of various products including rillis, laces, shirts and jewelry.

“My land was destroyed due to the flood of 2010. After receiving two orders of PKR 11,000, I utilized that money on replenishing the land and bought seeds to grow crops on the land again. My brother was very happy with this progress and we now grow wheat on our land which has increased our source of income further.”

Mithal also now conducts DRR trainings on her own in her village to expand and strengthen women’s knowledge, empowering them in decision-making processes at times of calamity.

“The villagers address me as an officer as I have travelled to Lahore and Karachi to progress my hard-work. Even my son calls me a professional officer and proudly walks in the streets of our village.”

Most women in the village are more encouraged now as they see Mithal’s courageous change by stepping out in the world to play a better role in the socio-economic development in her respective community.