Yearly Archives: 2016

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“From the Desert to the Ramp”, a short documentary developed by Community World Service Asia and PLUM Media Tank, showcasing the transformative journey of rural artisan women becoming the hands and heart of an urban fashion brand, was screened at an event titled “The Craft Journey”at the Indus Valley School of Art & Architecture (IVS) in Karachi last week.

The event celebrated the successful collaboration between Community World Service Asia (CWSA), the Danish Centre for Culture and Development (CKU), the Department of Textile Design at IVS, and the Women Enterprise Groups representing artisans from Umerkot and Thatta Districts of Sindh. It was this consistent year-long collaboration that made the journey of these artisans posible and conclusive.

Students and Faculty members of IVS, representatives from Community World Service Asia, Centre for Culture and Development (CKU), the artisans of Umerkot and Thatta participated in this event. They all witnessed the exquisite products that were produced through the mix of impeccable craftsmanship and design aesthetics of the merger between artisans and students.  Prominent fashion designers and popular fashion and home brands representatives such as Khaadi, Habitt, Tarzz, Nida Azwer Atelier, Mahwish Hassan and Saniya Maskatiya, attended the event.

The primary objective of this collaborative project was to empower marginalized women artisans towards taking an active role in decision making and represent themselves with the indigenous craft tradition of their region. The project also aimed at establishing sustainable linkages between the artisan community and the urban markets to maintain a continuous chain of demand and supply meeting current market trends, while upholding the handicraft identity. It also aimed at empowering the rural artisans to take control of their own business, thereby creating a strong, mutually beneficial professional relationship.

During the span of 12 months, various collaborative design workshops in selected villages of Umerkot and at the IVS campus in Karachi were conducted. They covered extensive data collection of artisans and various embroideries practiced in the region, initial sampling, designing of a cohesive project range, procurement of raw material, execution and finishing of the first collection of over 800 apparel products.

In a span of 40 days, 679 women artisans created masterpieces of art and skill combined for distinguished Pakistani designers within demanding deadlines. They worked tirelessly to produce 1700 products that are true specimen of tradition-meets-modernity. To introduce these handcrafted masterpieces to the fashion industry and clientele, a brand Taanka  at the reputable fashion platform of Pakistan Fashion Design Counsel (PFDC) in Lahore was launched, followed by a Craft Festivals, to further promote the brand and the Sindhi folk culture and handicrafts, was held at Dolmen Mall in Karachi.

A very significant step towards providing an entrepreneurial platform to the artisans has been establishing the link with well known designers and fashion brands through meetings and exposure visits. These experienced designers have been evaluating the skill and potential of the groups of artisans and planning possibilities of future long term collaborations with them. These meetings were arranged at Indus Valley School of Arts & Architecture through their Textile department where meetings between artisans representing WEGs in Umerkot met with Rizwan Beyg, Wardha Saleem (popular and very high-end fashion designers) and the crafts brand Tali, to have one to one sessions.

This collaboration has concluded with a new beginning for the artisans to emerge as successful entrepreneurs and showcase their brilliant skill under the brand TAANKA (Visit Taanka’s social media page to see the products produced and available for sale and order @ https://www.facebook.com/TaankArt/ )

The success of rural development depends upon the willingness and active participation of the local people in the development process. To ensure this, NGOs carry out extensive social mobilization activities to raise awareness and create demand amongst the local people for particular sensitive issues that exist within the community. Social Mobilization is a cornerstone for participatory approach in rural development and poverty alleviation programs, it aims to create a sense of ownership amongst the people by involving them directly in the decision making process.

A third of its kind training, on Social Mobilization, was thus, conducted by Community World Service Asia under its Quality and Accountability program at Peshawar University this November. The workshop was targeted at training community mobilizers, social organizers and staff members representing small NGOs, in order to impart specific knowledge about community mobilization, participatory development, and various relevant and complementary elements. Twenty-three participants, including 8 women, representing eight organizations took part in the training.

The four-day event was managed by Lubna Hussain, Community World Service Asia staff, with Moazzam Ali, consultant trainer, as the lead facilitator. Mr. Rashid Iqbal who works for FLOWERS, a National Peshawar based NGO shared that this workshop was “very comprehensive”.

Brainstorming, individual exercises, lectures, role plays, group work and interactive discussions were a vital part of this training. All these activities were used as tools to enhance the intellectual capacity of the participants towards utilizing the different tools of Social Mobilization in various contexts and situations.  Mr. Ibrahim Jan from Civil Society Human and Institutional Development Programme said, “We are working in community from years but did not have much command on basic needs of field as required so I am really impressed with this training which has developed a good foundation for us to start with.”

The training also aimed on giving Social Mobilizers the right instruments to increase the level of awareness among poor and socially excluded communities through particular social mobilization and community development programs to improve the quality of services.

Participants Voices

  • “This training was knowledgeable and a good learning opportunity for me. It has improved my learning process. I thank Community World Service Asia for this opportunity I hope I will be attending more trainings like these.”

    Abdul Aziz, Community World Service Asia.

  • “Overall the training was exquisite. I will share with my team whatever i have learnt here, I got a subtle chance of networking as well. I was practicing social mobilization but did not know the right terminologies. Now I will implement the learnings for the betterment of my organization and me”.

    Shamir Asif, Community Advancement Society (CAS)

  • “This was a good, informative & excellent training. I learnt so many topics which are new for me. The facilitator methodology was also easy to understand. The workshop & training sessions on different topics were very informative. I look forward to participating in other trainings and workshops as well.”

    Mr. Saif Ullah, Peshawar University

  • “Community World Service Asia is a leading capacity building organization in this area. The training on “Social Mobilization” was really informative. It fulfilled the needs of field workers who interact with the communities regularly, and showed us how to identify their needs and facilitate them in solving their problems. This training will facilitate us in our journey from welfare to development.”

    Mr. Syed Inam Ul Haq, Mercy Hands (MH)

  • “This Training was very interesting and informative. I would like to attend future workshops with them, this training give me professional experience.”

    Ms. Farheen Zahra CHIP (Civil Society Human and Institutional Development Program

  • “The methodology of training was very effective. I would like to attend more workshops in future, as I learned a lot in this training and enjoyed it.”

    Ms. Kausar Parveen (CHIP)

  • “Trainings like these should be conducted in the future as well, because such sessions really help organization such as ours in improving our staff capacity.”

    Mr. Sabz Ali (Flowers)

A silent revolution is underway deep inside Sindh province; one that is turning the fortunes of local artisans around. World renowned for their aesthetic mastery, Sindhi women artisans are now seeing their intricately crafted products showcased at one of the top fashion platforms in the country.

“From the Desert to the Ramp” is a short documentary developed by Community World Service Asia and PLUM Media Tank  with support from the Danish Centre of Culture and Development showcasing the transformative journey of rural artisan women becoming the hands and heart of an urban fashion brand.

1226

Every year on 10th December International Humans Rights Day is celebrated all over worldwide to increase the awareness of rights for all humans.

This year Community World Service Asia Stands for the health rights of women and children on 10th December.

“Community World Service Asia under its Capacity Institutional Program (CIP) organized a two day training on Ethical and Moral Responsibilities for NGOs for the students of the Social Work Program, at University of Peshawar, on December 1-2, 2016. In this training, a total of 21 students participated including 12 boys and 9 girls. These students were provided with practical knowledge about the Quality and Accountability principles and mechanism for NGOs’ program and staff. The focus was to orient the students on the accountability mechanism followed by local, sub-national and national NGOs in Pakistan.

The training aimed to promote conceptual clarity and practical approaches of NGOs structure and procedures and policies for safety of their staff and program participants including women, children and society’s vulnerable groups.”

Aaj, Peshawar, a local Newspaper also published news about the successful training at the University of Peshawar this Saturday (December 3rd).

1041

The Start Network officially launched the Start Fund Anticipation Window last week, which enables NGOs to prepare when they see a crisis coming and respond early to mitigate the predicted impacts.

By creating a systematic way for Start Network members to use forecasting information, and with funding to enable forecast-based interventions, the Anticipation Window aims to catalyse a more anticipatory approach to humanitarian crises.

Improved access to forecasting information, analysis and funding helps agencies shift from a reactive model to an anticipatory one, saving lives and costs in the process.

The Start Fund has already supported interventions in anticipation of crises in a number of countries – Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Uganda, Zambia and Mali – and now aim to make this a normal part of the Start Fund.

Community World Service Asia, being a Start member, was able to save thousands of lives by timely responding to the Heatwave Crisis in Sindh, Pakistan this year, by receiving funding through this Anticipation Window initiative.

To know more about the Start Network and the Crisis Anticipation Window, visit https://startnetwork.org.

958

Today is December 1st, World AIDS day- a day for people all over the world to unite in support of the fight against HIV & AIDS. Today we also reflect on how far we have come in this battle, and how far we have still got to go. Starting from looking right under our nose here in Pakistan, we still stand with #HIVPrevention.

Have a look at a brief report we have compiled on HIV & AIDS cases in Pakistan currently and on the work we’ve done on the cause in recent years.

Download Report

Don’t forget to wear your Red Ribbon today!

1202

The Communications Office organized a two-day training on Photography and Videography to enhance staff capacity building this October in Sindh. Community World Service Asia staff from Karachi, Thatta, Badin, Jhudo and Umerkot participated in this interactive workshop. A total of 24 staff participated in the training.

Mustufa and Zainab, parents to a young son and daughter, lived in Khamiso Dal Village located in Union Council Tando Hafiz Shah in Thatta, Sindh. The couple was living a troubled life since the floods in 2015 hit their house and their lands severely. The house was left totally damaged and all their belongings were washed away.  Zainab also suffered from a mental illness which made things further difficult for the family

Saving the lives of his family being the only thing on his mind, Mustufa, fled Khamiso village and the flood, and made it to Hameed farm. He stayed there for two and a half months with his family and was barely earning for the family by cracking stones.

When the flood water left, Mustufa returned back to his village with this family. Nothing was left of the village though. It was a land of ruins. No house was left undamaged and there was no land left for cultivation. Everyone’s life savings and belongings had gone too. The flood had taken everything along with it.

With nothing else left to depend on, Mustafa started to cut wood and sell it off for a living. As soon as the water in the village fields dried up, Mustufa started to think about re-cultivating his 4 acres of land. Before the floods, he used to produced cotton and chilies on his fields.

“I started to have some hope when staff of Community World Service Asia came to our village and distributed various vegetable seeds for sowing and harvest. I was hopeful that the golden days of my life would return and I began to cultivate those seeds in the back yard of my home,” narrated Mustafa.

As his land had become saline, the harvest result was not as good as it was expected. Mustufa, then went to his landlord and asked for his permission, to cultivate the remaining seeds on his land. The result of the second harvest was amazing. Only in thirty to thirty-five days there was produce in the lands. Spinach and coriander leaves were the first to sprout.

Filled with content and gratitude, Mustufa and his family cooked the first produce and had a good meal. They also distributed some among neighbors as a gift of happiness. Mustufa started selling the vegetables too. He sold 45kgs of spinach for 70Rs/kg and 15 kgs of coriander for 40Rs/kg. After a few days, okra, ridge gourd and bottle gourd were also produced. He sold 30 kg of newly harvested spinach for Rs.70/kg and earned a profit of PKR 2100. Whereas, the total profit he earned from selling 25kg of ridge for 50Rs/kg and 30kgs of bottle gourd for 50 Rs/kg were PKR 2750.

“I earned PKR 8600 (equivalent to DKK540) by selling these vegetables”,

says a proud Mustufa. With the profits earned, he bought Eid dresses for his family along with fruits and meat to eat. He used some savings of that revenue for the treatment of his wife as well. Mustufa has now planned to set up a tomato nursery and has high hopes for a good income generation of it.