Yearly Archives: 2019

Taulka Hospital in Samaro area has a total capacity of twenty beds, but at an average, we usually have more than fifty patients admitted at a time. At the hospital, we attend to around five to seven hundred patients in a week through our Out-patient Department (OPD) and carry over a hundred baby deliveries.

In September 2018, we started partnering with Community World Service Asia’s health program and since then our hospital has seen many improvements. Through this partnership, we were facilitated with the provision of women medical staff. This really helped us in establishing the family planning section at the hospital and increased the attendance of women and child patients.  The newly recruited women staff are on duty regularly and provide OPD, antenatal and postnatal care. They facilitate daily child deliveries and also conduct health awareness sessions for families and women. Moreover, if we come across complicated cases, their team and ours work together to refer patients to other hospitals when needed,

shared Dr. Kailash Lanthi, who is a Medical Superintendent (MS) at the Taulka Hospital in Samaro.

The Taulka hospital of Samaro is equipped with basic facilities that include an X-ray machine, an expanded program on immunization (EPI), a laboratory and two in-house pharmacies.

As we collaborated with CWSA’s health team, our hospital was provided with high-quality, internationally manufactured medicines that are available free-of-cost at our pharmacy. These medicines are otherwise rarely available in rural areas such as Samaro. As a medical practitioner, I can confidently prescribe the highest quality medicines to my patients now as I am sure of their availability. We also received positive feedback from the patients about the new medicines working very effectively. In fact, some patients now insist to be given these medicines as they are certain they are more effective.

According to Dr. Kailash, the collaboration with CWSA has resulted in the development of great health and medical facilitators’ team at the hospital. The Lady Health Visitor (LHV) and community mobilizer have enhanced awareness among local communities about health care through regular health awareness sessions and field visits amongst the masses residing in nearby villages.

The local communities have moved away from traditional self-treatment and home remedies and now only come to the hospital for medical consultations and treatment. We normally find a daily high attendance rate in the OPD section now.

The health sessions have increased awareness and promoted positive maternal and neonatal health behaviors among the local communities. Increased access to and community involvement in maternal and child health services have ensured the delivery of quality healthcare services.

The patients now ask questions regarding their health and regarding the medicines, they are prescribed. This shows that they have become more conscious of receiving proper and relevant medical treatment.

Dr. Kailash, however, feels that the physical condition of the hospital building is fragile and requires extensive maintenance.

We have written letters to the concerned departments for the maintenance of the building at least four times but we have not received any positive response yet. Some of the medical practitioners’ positions are also still vacant, which leaves us with inadequate human resources to efficiently run the hospital.

Our hospital has a designated dental unit, but since no qualified dental surgeon has been appointed to the post yet, the unit is not operational. We also need to upgrade our labour room with more trained staff and equipment. For instance, we have an ultrasound machine, but we do not have a sinologist to operate the ultrasound system. There is also no access to ultrasound tests at night for people living in these rural villages. This is why we have no choice but to refer cases to other hospitals in the city, despite being equipped with an ultrasound machine at our own hospital. Sadly, families are forced to travel long distances to access radiology services which become very costly as well. We are still writing to concerned higher authorities highlighting the challenges of the hospital and have not given up yet.

Dr. Kailash recommended that the existing medical staff (women) at the hospital are given advanced trainings in sonology so that the ultrasound equipment available at the hospital can be utilized and patients can be tested here, instead of being referred to city hospitals. He also suggested for establishing a small laboratory where hemoglobin testing and blood transfusion is possible for pregnant mothers and child patients.

Our hopes are high and we believe that things will improve,

quoted Dr. Kailash positively.

In Pakistan, national organizations are playing a vital role in pushing for social development agendas by actively complementing the work of the government, media and other stakeholders towards achieving the ultimate goal of creating a progressive society. To do this and to effectively contribute to the country’s social and economic progress, it is necessary for civil society organizations (CSOs) to be equipped with the required knowledge and strong influencing skills.

As a key activity of Community World Service Asia’s Capacity Enhancement Project, a training on “Influencing for positive change” for local and national level organizations was organized to strengthen the skills and technical ability of CSO staff to implement advocacy and awareness raising projects and engage communities in the process more effectively.

The training was a five-day course and took place in Murree with a daily attendance of twenty-four participants representing five different national non-profit organizations.

Aftab Ahmed Awan, is a humanitarian professional with more than 15 years’ of experience in strategic direction, development and implementation of organizational policies and frameworks and resource mobilization, facilitated the sessions. Natasha Sajjad, Policy Advocacy & Influencing Specialist, co-facilitated along with Aftab.

Along the five-day course, participants learnt to differentiate between influencing and networking and were introduced to new and most effective tools and approaches applied to tasks and activities linked to influence.

To enhance participants’ knowledge on developing a strategic approach towards policy engagement and its communication, participants were engaged in designing real campaigns for social change through policy reforms. Through this exercise, they practically learnt new skills and approaches applied to “influencing” for successful campaigns.

Some of the participating organizations wanted to develop new skills to effectively implement their projects that involved activities that required influencing policymakers and overcome challenges of communication and monitoring campaigns through this training. Most of these participants were well satisfied with what they learnt as the trainer shared different tactics to utilize and overcome challenges faced during campaigns. Action plans for future campaigns were developed by participants and were to be further refined with their teams in their respective offices. As a follow up of the training, participants were offered technical support post-training to ensure finalization of action plans.

Participants’ Voices:

Ali Anwar, Program Officer MEAL, LASOONA

“Having the experience of a number of trainings, this training came out to be different and significant in terms of content, methodology and management. The topics were linked to our work and provided a good experience. The training was quite interactive and allowed an open platform for transparent learning from all participants’ experiences.”

Ishrat, Team Leader, Peace & Development organization

“Working directly with community becomes challenging at times. This training provided technical solutions to overcome the challenges and influence the people through effective campaigns. It provided in-depth knowledge on different aspects such as design, power analysis of stakeholders, setting goals and objectives, developing key messages and choosing the right medium for communication. The participatory approach adopted in the workshop allowed equal engagement of participants.”

Hassan Jamil, Monitoring Officer, The Punjab Educational Endowment Fund (PEEF)

“Attending the workshop was a very interesting experience.  I had a mixed opinion of the development sector, prior to this workshop. This workshop developed an optimistic view of humanitarian work and refined my knowledge for bringing a positive change in the society we live in. The interaction with experienced humanitarian professionals helps me build a clear understanding of running successful campaigns and influencing people to work for the progress of underprivileged societies.”

Many rural and agrarian communities in Badin have benefited through Community World Service Asia’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food security project which started in 2015. This initiative, supported by PWS&D and CFGB, seeks to ensure food security and sustainability in rural areas by introducing and promoting innovative farming skills among local villagers. By doing this, they are positively impacting the community sustainably by guiding them on how to acquire their own necessities rather than merely distributing tangible products such as food kits or shelters. Through the project, villagers are encouraged to become self-sufficient instead of dependent on external assistance.

Using various methods, the project is equipping rural communities of Badin with essential knowledge on health, nutrition, and sustainable agriculture. The project recently held a Farmers Festival for women farmers to celebrate World Food Day and the achievements of these farmers over the last two years. The festival featured many performances, including poem recitals, song competitions, and two didactic dramas enacted by local children and the village’s theater group, which has been formed as part of Community World Service Asia’s projects in the area. More than three hundred and fifty women from Union Council Khairpur Gambo and Pangario of Badin and fifteen elementary school students from the same area participated in the festival. The children (students) enlightened the attendees at the festival on the importance of kitchen gardening, tree plantations, good nutrition, environment conservation and the history of World Food Day through tableau performances. Representatives from the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP), Participatory Village Development Programme (PVDP), Arche Nova, Society for Safe Environment and Welfare of Agrarians in Pakistan (SSEWA-Pak) and Local Support Organizations (LSOs) also participated at the festival.

I came to this festival because the project staff has become like family. They teach us so much that I respect them. When I received the invitation to this festival, I was very excited to attend the event. The atmosphere in this festival is delightful. It is a wonderful opportunity for us women to come out of our houses, enjoy ourselves, and learn. What we learn will help us change our lives,

remarked, Fozia Iftikar one of the farmers at the festival.

The mother of four children, aged between 4-11 years, Fozia deeply cares for her family. She hopes that her children will be able to learn vocational skills that will help them in the future but has not yet been able to find an opportunity for them. Fozia lives in Shukaraldin, a rural village of Badin, where her husband works as a farmer on a small plot of his own land. Due to the nature of his work, Fozia’s husband does not earn a steady monthly income. Fozia explained,

After every six months, my husband sells whatever crop he has been growing on the land, and we live off the profits. However, we have to wait for that income since some crops, like cotton and peppers, take six months until they are ready to sell.

Fozia is not able to do full-time work because of her young children, but she does sewing at home. She rarely receives sewing commissions, and when she does, they are usually from relatives. Thus, the family’s main source of income is through her husband’s farming. The family is dependent on the water and weather for their crop’s wellbeing, creating an unstable financial foundation for the family.

Two years ago, Fozia started growing a kitchen garden after the team came to her village and began to teach the community about health and nutrition. They encouraged the villagers to create kitchen gardens so that families would have food security and eat more healthily. Fozia shared,

We learn a lot from the project team who taught us about health and hygiene. Because of this teaching, my family has been able to prosper. We didn’t know anything about growing vegetables until they taught us about it. My family did not pay any attention to health, but now we are all very interested in this matter.

Community World Service Asia holds teaching sessions in Fozia’s village once or twice a month. The staff teaches the community members about agricultural techniques so that kitchen gardeners will be able to maintain their produce. Sessions for men on fishing and other food-gaining practices are also held.

Fozia confidently asserted that it is easy to maintain her kitchen garden, and she appreciates the change—in terms of finances and health—that it has brought in her family. “I am very happy,” she expressed,

I like eating my freshly grown vegetables. The healthiest diet for my family is to eat our homegrown vegetables.

Ever since Fozia’s family has been eating homegrown vegetables, the family has had some extra money, initially used to purchase vegetables. They use it on other household necessities, such as oil, sugar, clothes, and the children’s school books. Moreover, when Fozia’s kitchen garden has excess vegetables, she either sells them to generate more income, or she gives them to people who do not have any food.

Fozia has also noticed that her family’s health has improved. She estimates that in a year, there may be one or two illnesses among her children, but no more than that. Furthermore, she noted that her family is much more energetic than they were when they ate vegetables from town.

This kitchen garden has had positive effects on my family. We eat clean and healthy food which has improved our health,

Fozia declared.

Fozia’s children did not like eating vegetables before, so the family often ate lentils, the children’s favorite meal. Fozia did not know the nutritional value of vegetable before. However, after Community World Service Asia began holding sessions in her village, she discovered that their diet was unhealthy. Now, the family consumes vegetables at least once a day rather than only once or twice a week as they did previously. After Fozia began attending the sustainable farming sessions, her family has much more variety in their diet.

The vegetables that we used to buy in town are grown with polluted water, and they were always several days old when we bought them. On the other hand, the water I use to grow my vegetables at home is clean, safe water. Our homegrown vegetables are much fresher than the ones in town. We grow all sorts of vegetables at home, such as tomatoes, cauliflowers, pumpkins, squash, and many more. Homegrown food is optimal for my family’s wellbeing.

Rural women have been trained in kitchen gardening under the food security project. Fozia Iftikhar is just one of many women who have benefited from the project. Another woman farmer, Heeri, from village Prem Nagar, Jhudo, expressed herself at the farmers’ festival,

The kitchen gardening training build our skills and knowledge in growing vegetables at home. Before this, we always had to buy vegetables from the nearby market which was not only tasteless but also difficult to purchase due to high prices. With the kitchen gardening training and vegetable seeds provided by the livelihoods team, we are no more dependent on our men to fetch vegetables from the nearby market.

She further added that the nutrition training also helped enhance inclination towards taking healthy and balanced diets through the food that is available to them.

Nasreen, another farmer, from Shukarddin Araen village, Jhudo, further added,

Kitchen gardening is a ray of hope for me and my family. My family enjoys fresh and chemical free vegetables from our garden. In addition, I have earned PKR 35000 by selling fresh vegetables in nearby markets. This has improved our standard of living.

The community will continue these kitchen gardens. We did not force this project on people. All we did was sensitized and mobilized them. People are beginning to realize the benefits of kitchen gardens themselves,

a staff member of the project assured.

Hundred percent of the target families have been trained in nutrition and kitchen gardening, providing fresh vegetables at the doorstep of villagers. Families were provided with vegetables seeds to grow in their kitchen gardens. This availability of vegetable at their doorstep not only increased diversity in their meals but also enhanced the quality and quantity of food consumption of the targeted families. A periodic survey report revealed that acceptable food consumption score of the targeted families have increased up to 70% at the end of second year of the project implementation. This was at 43 % initially. Through the teaching sessions in villages, the food security project staff hopes to see continued development in the communities of Badin. The change evidenced in the lives of village women, such as Fozia Iftikhar, reveals that the project is bringing the world one step closer to achieving the second sustainable development goal: Zero Hunger.

I was the only one who could support my family at the time

. Seeta, 17-year-old artisan, Umerkot.

In a remote village of Umerkot, Seeta lives with her two brothers and parents. Their father used to work as a chef in Karachi where he earned a monthly income of PKR 10,000 (approx. US$ 100). However, a couple of months ago, his head was injured and he was admitted at a hospital where he had to be treated immediately. The medical treatment, though necessary was extremely expensive. Since Seeta’s elder brother had his own children and wife to support and their younger brother was too young to work and was studying, all the medical expenses of their father’s treatment landed on Seeta’s fragile shoulders. Seeta became her family’s strongest and only support; emotionally and financially, at this difficult time.

During this crisis, a Women Enterprise Group (WEG) (under the CWSA & Ycare project) was established in Seeta’s home village, Panju Meghwar. Though it was difficult for Seeta to take time out of all the household chores she was responsible for, she recognized this as the perfect opportunity to enhance her handicraft skills and improve livelihood prospects for the family. Upon joining the WEG, Seeta learned various handicraft skills, such as different stitches, color combinations, and use of assorted fabrics and threads. After the WEG participants learned these skills, the project team helped the women in linking them to urban markets from which they would receive orders with fair profits.

Through feedback from the trainers and project team it has been observed that Seeta is evidently a highly talented artisan. She easily understands design, has the ability to handle any type of fabric, and has excellent time management and quality control.

None of the artisans from the WEG were confident or willing to take orders for embroidery on different fabrics, such as organza or crape, as they were all afraid of the material being easily damaged and being too thin. However, Seeta was the only one among the artisans who took up the challenge and completed the given orders in time and in very good quality. Inspired by her, the other artisans have now also started taking orders on fabric and material that’s new to them.

Seeta has learnt to produce new products like cushions, short shirts, trousers and stationary pouches. The chevron dupattas, with exquisite mirror work and hurmutch stitch, are her most popular and most sold products.

I have started working on orders that require varied types of threads and fabrics and have generated PKR 30,000 in the last three months for my family. I have used this money on my brother’s education, household expenses, and on my father’s treatment. Thankfully, my father is beginning to feel better now.

Seeta feels, and rightly so, that this is only the start. She confessed that at times one needs a push only and that she got from the trainings and by being part of the WEG. Once you get the push, there is no looking back, She plans to continue practicing and perfecting her skills and teach other girls in her village as well. Not only is this a convenient and acceptable business for women in their community, but also something that will remain with them through generations. Seeta further expressed,

I’m thankful to Community World Service Asia because it made me realize that a girl can also be independent and support her family. I am proud of myself for the achievements I have made, and I am more confident after participating in the Women Enterprise Group.

Group photo of Participants with EVC Team and Sofia Noreen in Mirpurkhas.

Community World Service Asia, through its networks and alliances, continuously seeks new and effective ways to maximize program impact, by utilizing the influence and ideas of specialized experts, including government officials, consultants, civil society workers, media personnel and academia,  who can make a difference.

By partnering with government departments, we assist vulnerable communities to work together on shared goals and actions. Our teams use this network of partnerships to encourage different communities to work towards bringing change, improve their lives and that of others.

To strengthen these partnerships and collaborations, two trainings, each of one day, were organized with government departments in Sindh.  Representatives from various departments such as the Social Welfare team, Women Development, Police, Education, Health, District Councils, and Population welfare teams were trained in a series of information sharing and capacity strengthening sessions on Gender laws and mainstreaming in districts Umerkot and Mirpurkhas in April this year. The trainings focused on enhancing Women’s Empowerment through increasing knowledge on and implementation of Gender Related Policies and Laws for the various line departments.

Sofia Noreen, a consultant with over 27 years of professional experience in research, programme designing and execution, monitoring, international development and liaison & coordination, facilitated the sessions.  Having practical experience on work around gender, women empowerment and governance, she had many interesting examples and exercises to share with the group of participants to ensure effective learning.

The training sessions were designed to enhance engagement and interaction among participants, while providing them sufficient space to share their personal experiences and professional learnings. By the end of the training, participants understood the role of social institutions in formation of gender roles and impact of gender roles towards gender discrimination in accessing nutrition, health, education, income/resources and decision-making forums at all levels. Participants were able to identify and differentiate between the various roles each official and department had to play towards development and gender mainstreaming considering the Gender Development Index and Gender Empowerment measures.

The training was very relevant to our field of work. The training introduced the patriarchy system and how it plays an important role in assigning different roles, keeping in view the gender perspective,” shared Saroop Chand, Assistant Director Social Welfare, Umerkot.

Group exercises, individual reflections, role plays and presentations highlighted Pakistani and Sindhi women’s status of empowerment on education, health, income and decision-making. To further enhance the participants knowledge, some sessions focused on teaching basic definitions, frameworks, policies and laws relevant to the governing various sectors.

I mostly decline training proposals I receive. However, the agenda of this training was quite appealing and relevant to my work. Sofia stressed on implementing the existing laws and policies in the country. Through proper implementation, we can omit the gender difference in every field of life and encourage empowerment of both men and women equally for the betterment of our society,” positively expressed Afroza Chohan, Incharge Women Complaint Cell, Mirpurkhas and Umerkot.

An exercise on clarifying the difference between gender and sex was one of the key topics of one of the sessions. Key institutions, such as family, academia, peer groups, religious institutes and media that play a vital role in establishing societal gender roles were identified as well. “On basis of these roles, some sections of society are given powerful status within societal structures while others are considered subordinate and subjugated. Hence, it is important to emphasize on the difference between gender and sex,” shared Sofia Noreen.

“The content of the training was unique and informative. I was unaware of many of the laws and policies related to Gender but this experience built a strong perspective towards women empowerment. The training stressed on how the process of socialization shapes our thoughts and actions and at which level one needs to work on changing the unjust mindsets,” said Junaid Mirza, Assistant Director Social Welfare, Mirpurkhas.

In response to the severe climate change lead drought in the Sindh and Baluchistan provinces of Pakistan, Community World Service Asia activated its emergency food security and nutrition project in Umerkot last month. This initiative, which is supported by the Presbyterian World Service & Development (PWS&D) and the Canadian Food Grains Bank (CFGB), aims to assist 1,600 most vulnerable drought affected families through food distribution and nutritional programs for six months.

Since most of the affected families belong to purely agrarian communities, millet seeds will also be distributed among them for the next sowing season to ensure their nutritional and livelihood sustainability. The first round of this project’s food distribution was conducted during the last week of April at four different villages, namely Rohiraro, Bhadi, Dhalo Jo Tarr and Ramsar, in Umerkot District. The distribution points were selected in consultation with the local communities to ensure easy access for all selected project participants.

Food packages distributed under this project are developed using the Sphere minimum standards for food security which ensures the provision of 2,100 kilo calories per person per day. The package includes 60kgs of wheat flour, 15kgs of Rice, 7kgs of pulses, 4kgs of sugar, 6liters of cooking oil, 400g of tea leaves, 800g of iodized salt and a pack of 10 matchboxes for every family until they start harvesting their own produce. These families will also be provided16kgs of millet crop seed in June.

Community Voices:

“During the last few months, our family could barely afford three meals a day as due to our poor financial conditions. We had limited availability of food at home, most of which was borrowed at high interest rates. The small amount of money that my four daughters earn by embroidering traditional Sindhi caps is not enough to even cover the expense of my medicines as I am a patient of Epilepsy. A few days ago my husband fractured his hand in an accident, increasing our problems and expenses further. In this difficult time, the food aid provided to us through this project has been a blessing for our family.  The quality of food has been good and will be sufficient to serve my family three meals a day for more than a month. We are hopeful that there will be a good downpour this year and we will have sufficient harvest from our fields.”

Reshama, wife of Kirshan, resident of Ranhar village, UC Kaplore, Umerkot District

“The past two years have been very difficult for my family as there have been limited work opportunities in the area and there have been no harvests from our fields. We have bee surviving with limited resources. Access to food has been challenging. My elder son earns a meager income which is not sufficient to provide food to a six-member family thrice a day. Some community members lend us food sometimes.

We are now eating three meals daily for four consecutive days as a result of the food assistance provided under the food aid project. The food items received from the team are of good quality and quantity. I am glad to see my children sleeping with their stomachs full.”

Kheian, wife of Pargho, residing in Ranhar village, UC Kaplore, Umerkot District

“Due to my physical disability, I manage and try to earn through the little livestock we own. Providing basic necessities for my family of eight people was becoming very difficult. The drought in the area further worsened our living conditions, making our lives more difficult. We barely had any means of income or food. We were not even able to migrate to other areas due to lack of resources.  In order to feed my family, I had to sell some of my livestock, leaving me with only three goats. The situation was getting worst by the day. My miseries came to an end when Community World Service Asia came knocking at my door to provide food assistance. The food package provided is enough to meet the food needs of my family for an entire month.”

Chander Singh, resident of Bhadi village, UC Kaplore, Umerkot District

Social Mobilization is considered key towards ensuring a participatory approach in rural development and poverty alleviation programs. It aims to create a sense of ownership among communities by involving them directly in decision-making processes. Civil society organizations apply social mobilization to raise awareness, motivate people to bring change and to organize communities to take ownership of project interventions.

Under its Capacity Enhancement Program, Community World Service Asia offers a variety of learning and skill enhancement opportunities to support the growth of non-governmental, civil society, and community-based organizations in Pakistan. These initiatives aim to strengthen the capacity of all the stakeholders involved in humanitarian and development assistance to effectively advocate for the communities with which they work.

Acknowledging the strong need and positive impact of effective social mobilization, a four-day residential workshop on Essentials of Social Mobilization was organized under the program at Peshawar University’s social work department. The training was open to community mobilizers, social organizers, coordinators and team leads of medium to small local and national NGOs.

A total of twenty-four participants from seven different organizations and the university’s own social work department took part in this training that focused on strengthening participants’ understanding of social mobilization as an approach and to furnish them with skills and tools for its effective application and implementation.

Emphasis on the Do No Harm approach for community development was placed among other topics such as social mobilization policy & procedures, significance of community engagement, and sustainability of development work. The training also covered technical aspects such as basic communication skills, ethics, successful community mobilization tools, managing power dynamics and conflict management that are essential to ensure the inclusion, ownership, well-being and human dignity of the communities in need.

Some participating organizations, who did not previously have a social mobilization policy, planned to develop one soon after the training and included it as a high-priority task in their upcoming organizational work plans.

All participating organizations devised six-month action plans to include and implement learnings of the social mobilization training, with assistance of the training facilitators, in their program interventions and organizational development targets.

Participants’ Learning

The participatory learning approach was the highlight of the training for me. The Do no harm approach, role plays and activities were interesting and new for us. The session on social mobilization policy and its link with sustainability was very effective for local organizations like ours.

Sajjad, Lasoona Organization, Swat, KPK.

The training content was very informative and the methodology and quality were good too. I learnt new concepts such as the do no harm approach and the role of connectors and dividers in communities. The overall environment of the training was positive and productive. All participants got equal opportunities to engage.

Shahmer Ali, The Awakening Organization, Charsadda 

The training was quite relevant to our work experience in the field. The methodology of the training was effective and there was a lot of practical learning through group activities and discussions with other participants.

Mussarat, representative from Lasoona Organization, Swat, KPK

A theater play was performed by a local theater group called Pirbhat.

A district level event to commemorate International Women’s Day was held with participation of local communities, humanitarian and relevant government body representatives on the 28th of March (2019) in Mirpurkhas. This event, with an attendance of over two hundred participants, was organized by Community World Service Asia’s team under its Gender Mainstreaming project in collaboration with the Social Welfare Department of Mirpurkhas.

Sayyada Banu, Additional Director of Social Welfare Sindh, and Nafisa Qurban, Deputy Director of Social Welfare, Sindh, graced the event as special guests to applaud and promote the accomplishments of Sindh’s rural women. Other guests at the event included representatives of District Information, District Bar Association, District Council, the Police Department, and the District Municipal Department.

Agha Sardar, Project Officer at CWSA’s Umerkot office, welcomed the guests and shared the objective of the event, which was to congregate different people from different segments of life to honor and acknowledge the contribution of rural women towards the development of a prosperous and empowered society.

Today we celebrate the inspiring role of women around the world and encourage them to work towards achieving women’s rights and build more equitable societies,

said Kiran Bashir, Project Manager, CWSA, as she addressed the audience while briefly introducing the project as well.

Sumaira Baloch, an active Social Worker in Mirpurkhas district, spoke on the topic too.

Women have been created beautifully. They can work as hard as men. However, women face many challenges due to which they often lack behind in different fields of work. Every day should be celebrated as women’s day, to highlight these challenges and the remarkable ways in which women can and do overcome these challenges. Issues such as harassment at work, domestic violence and discrimination require immediate attention and action plan. We need to honor and respect women who choose to come out of their homes and work and allow them opportunities to work along with men with pride and honor.

Appreciating CWSA’s efforts towards organizing the IWD event at a district level, Shagufta, an advocate by profession and an active social worker expressed,

I am pleased to be part of this event which honors the contribution of women towards the betterment of the society. I truly believe in both genders thinking and working together for a successful development process. As member of the District Engagement Group (DEG), working under the EVC Project, we aim to listen to the voices of marginalized communities. We want to ensure that no one is left behind.

Nusarat Miyano, a vigorous social worker in Mirpurkhas shared the everyday challenges a woman faces as a housewife or as a professional. She talked of the harassment that young girls and woman face at educational institutes and workplaces as a key challenge. 

It is important to build awareness regarding the existing laws in the country that protect women. Sessions must be held so that women can fight for their rights to overcome these challenges.

As part of the event, a theater play was performed by a local theater group called Pirbhat[1]. The play highlighted the essential role of women in decision-making, especially in matters related to child marriages, girl’s education and economic empowerment. Koshaliya, an artisan in Umerkot since 2015, was invited on stage to share her views of women empowerment.

CWSA gave me an opportunity, such that most women of our community can only dream of. Their livelihoods team facilitated us with a six months vocational and adult literacy training. My life changed dramatically after that. I became a Sales Marketing Agent and received other trainings on skill development as well. I visited Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad to promote our handicrafts. Our products were appreciated at national level as they were exhibited through exhibitions and fashion shows. We are continuously getting orders of embroidered apparel with the support of the CWSA. As a result, more than a thousand women, residing in remote villages of Umerkot, have become economically stronger and are supporting their families in many different ways.

Radha Bheel, another local social worker, congratulated all the participating women for their numerous achievements, despite the many social and cultural hindrances they face in their communities.

We live in a male dominant society, where it is difficult for a woman to even move freely. In a world like this, I commend the women of today for the many achievements they have made. This shows that women have the capabilities and talent to prove that they can achieve the impossible.

This was followed by a screening of a short video case story that demonstrated the skill building journey of the artisans and how that eventually lead to the launch of commercial handicrafts brand, called Taanka, for them.

Addressing the attendants, Shafique Husain Memon, Divisional Director Information Mirpurkhas, congratulated CWSA for organizing an event that appreciates women in every walk of life. He stressed on the importance of educating women.

We all have the responsibility to promote the rights of women in every field and honor their contributions towards change and progress.

Sayyada Baano, expressed,

I feel fortunate to be attending this dynamic event especially organized to celebrate International Women’s Day. Women play a strong role along with men in building a harmonious society. However, there is need for women to participate freely and openly. The Sindh Government is making efforts to protect the right of women by putting emphasis on strong implementation on laws such as Domestic Violence Act 2013. This will facilitate deprived women and protect them from the social evils.

The poor condition of women living in Dar-ul-Amman[2] has saddened me. Women are neglected, scared and tortured. It is unfortunate to see how the society, especially the male dominant segment, has dealt with this. I assure you that the Government of Sindh will take strong actions in protecting women’s rights to build a safe society for women to live peacefully and freely.

Junaid Mirza, Assistant Director Social Welfare Mirpurkhas, thanked the guests and speakers for honoring the women of today. He assured to hold and support such events with the collaboration of Government departments.  Traditional Sindhi Ajraks[3] were presented as gift to the speakers and dignitaries at the closing ceremony of the event.

[1] A local theater group formed under the livelihoods project. Members of the group were trained under the project.

[2] A shelter home for women victims of violence.

[3] Ajrak (Sindhi: اجرڪ‎) is a unique form of block printed shawls and tiles found in Sindh, Pakistan.

Working as a field labourer is quite tough at times. The earning from it also depends entirely on the availability of work. A meager earning of PKR 200 per day is often insufficient to meet the needs of eight family members. Most of the income is spent on daily household expenses which includes food and utilities,

shares Haleema.

Haleema is a fifty-five-year-old mother to six children who lives in Ranta village, located in the Sujawal district of Sindh province in Pakistan. Her husband, Phul, is much older to her and has been diagnosed with severe diabetes for some years now. The diabetes has left Phul bed ridden and unfit for any sort of physical work. With no other source of income for the family, Haleema and her eldest son work as daily labourers at local agricultural fields whenever there is an availability. Through this they manage to earn up to PKR 4,000 (indicate $ equivalent in brackets) per month.

Ranta is a remote village which is located at least twenty-two kilometers away from the nearest town. For many years, there were no health facilities in Ranta or in any of the nearby villages for residents to seek medical help at. The closest health centre was located miles away from these rural settlers. With the little income that families like Haleema have, it was nearly impossible to bear the costs of travel to these health facilities for any sort of medical treatment, let alone the medical fees.

The travel and medical expenses were unaffordable for us because of which we rarely went to avail health treatments or seek medical check-ups even when we would fall sick. We would mostly treat ourselves with local remedies, which were not very effective,

 confessed Haleema.

However, when the Maternal Neonatal Child Health Center (MNCH) was set up in our village in 2012, one of our troubles had lessened. Health care finally became accessible to poor people like us. It brought a bit of ease in our life. This health centre is only a few minutes’ walk from our home which makes it very practical for us to access, without any money,

expressed Haleema happily.

This year (2019) in February, I fell severely ill. I first went to the MNCH for a check-up on the 4th of February. The lady doctor, Shazia, who saw me there was very kind and cooperative and conducted a thorough check-up of mine,

said Haleema.

According to Dr. Shazia, Medical Doctor at the MNCH,

Haleema was suffering from high fever and chest complications. After running some tests, Haleema was diagnosed with malaria. A course of anti-malaria tablets for a week was prescribed and a follow-up visit was scheduled after the completion of the course.

By the time that Haleema made her follow-up visit to the MNCH, she was feeling healthier. Dr. Shazia further prescribed some multivitamins and gastric tablets to her so that she would maintain a healthy diet. Haleema was also given a health awareness session where she was encouraged to use mosquito nets to protect her and her family from diseases like Malaria and Dengue. In addition, she was advised to follow a more nutritional diet which would increase her family’s immunity in the long-run.

Haleema has been a member of the Village Health Committee and Health Management Committeeⁱⁱ since 2015. Today, as an active member of the committees, she provides counselling and builds awareness on health issues and family planning for the women of Ranta and other nearby villages. She encourages women to avail health services of the MNCH and to take care of their health which would be beneficial for the entire family.

I avail every opportunity I can get to counsel women. I have shared health benefits and provided advice during social gatherings, wedding occasions and even during harvesting crops in fields.

Diseases of all kinds are persisting in remote areas due to poverty, poor health and hygiene and lack of awareness. In this situation, it is essential to provide continuous health education sessions and avail primary health services to ensure healthy lives and promote general well-being,

expressed Haleema positively.

ⁱ Sustainable Development Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.

ⁱⁱ Village Health Committee and Health Management Committee formed under the Health project to ensure community participation, ownership and support to communities in building awareness.


In a European Commission (EC) initiated conference on ‘Evaluation in hard-to-each areas’, Hur Husnanin, Impact, Results and Learning Manager at YCare International[1] presented a well-researched report on gathering, analyzing and disseminating evaluative evidence on project impact generated by using mobile phones and tablets in rural settings. This evidence was gathered in some of the most hard-to-reach areas of under-developed and conflict-affected countries using innovative methodologies to conduct evaluations.

As Pakistan is ranked among countries of Fragility Conflict and Violence (FCV) in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Fragility Framework of 2018, Hur shared some of his findings from his visit to Pakistan as well. He talked about his experience of using mobile based technology for assessment of one of YCare and CWSA’s livelihoods project[2] that focused on Economic Empowerment. Hur’s use of the Sprockler[3] application and assessment methodology which lead to successful evaluation results was explained in detail in his presentation. He explained how Sprockler’s online tools helped him develop an interactive and user-friendly report to show the project’s impact. The application’s bi-pole and tri-pole question structure and visualization of the story element was presented to the audience at the seminar.

Hur explained the implementation of the Frontline line SMS software as a participatory monitoring mechanism applied as an innovative experiment in the livelihoods project. The IEC material specially developed for the mechanism (translated into local language, Sindhi) was also displaced along with some quotes of community members who used the Frontline SMS system as part of the monitoring process.  This proved to be a very successful monitoring activity.

Community World Service Asia had quoted best examples from their evaluation process of the project through assessment workshops. These best findings were then validated by Hur through interactions with local communities at different locations of Umerkot. Through these meetings, the community members were given a chance to review the findings and share their feedback. Hur expressed,

It was a transparent and open opportunity for the participants either to validate their sharing or clarify it if it was misunderstood.

He called it a

proper closing of evaluation learning loop.

This has proved to be a successful model of verifying evaluation and monitoring results and we plan to utilize this for future project assessments as well.

[1] Ycare is a Livelihoods & Women empowerment program partner of Community World Service Asia

[2] The livelihoods project titled “Increasing financial resilience and economic empowerment” in Umerkot is implemented by Community World Service Asia and supported by YCare International and UKAID.

[3] Sprockler is an innovative new storytelling research tool to make sense of what happens in organizations and communities.