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The PUKAR theater group performing at a local village after the training on Interactive Theater for Influencing in 2019.

Imam Uddin Soomro is an active member of the Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT), an alliance of small-scale and landless farmers including women farmers. Imam collects data on crops and conducts awareness sessions for farmers on sustainable agriculture, green revolution and globalization. As a member of a local theatre group named, PUKAR, since 2018, Imam also performs as an interactive theatre artiste in rural villages, organises learning events and writes articles on agriculture and farmers’ rights in local languages.

The PKMT was formed in 2008 as a result of a series of discussions among powerless farmers and social and political activists who felt that an organised platform to voice their demands was essential for small-scale farmers facing social and economic constraints.

“We perform plays that enable us to interact with different communities. The theatre plays address issues that are part of the PKMT struggle, including feudalism and the impact of corporate agriculture. As a theater performer, I was selected as a participant in a training tilted, Interactive Theater for Influencing, in July 2019. The training provided technical knowledge and capacity building opportunities on skills required to influence communities to bring about progress in the society. Our skills of script-writing, communications and character-building were further enhanced in the seven-day residential training.” said Imam.

All seven members of the PUKAR theater group participated in the training which gave them networking and experience- sharing opportunities with other like-minded participants. The session on ‘team building’ and ‘inhibition breaking’ helped participants self-assess themselves and understand their pivotal and influential position in society. Participants learnt about stage directions, allowing the audience to grasp every performers’ act and the message they are conveying through their role plays.

“We met with other theater groups from Peshawar, Sindh and Islamabad. All the groups had different interactive skills to perform as we all engage with different kinds of audiences. The members of other groups shared the issues they highlighted through their plays and how they passed on the resolutions,” shared Imam.

On the last day of the training, participants developed action plans to further implement the learning and skills learnt during the training.

“Initially, we would randomly select issues and base our plays on those issues. After the training, we altered our strategy. We now plan a meeting to identify the common issues that are prevalent in the communities through meetings with community members and develop a script for the play accordingly to work together to rectify the challenges people are facing. CWSA has extended support in reviewing the scripts which we plan to avail,” expressed Imam.

A group exercise that engaged the training participants in planning a theater play with other members of the group allowed collaborative learning and practical experience-sharing through coordination among the members. Imam narrated,

“When we acted with other theater performers, we learnt to show strong facial expressions as that also largely impacts the deliverance of the message and not just the dialogues. This joint exercise helped in modifying our acting and delivery gestures in order to have an even stronger impact in the communities we perform.”

Prepared by the Communications Office

August 26, 2020

This year’s fifth monsoon spell in Pakistan started on Monday August 24th and continued throughout Tuesday, swamping districts of Mirpurkhas, Umerkot, Tharparkar, Mithiari, Sanghar, Nowshero Feroze, Jamshoro, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allahyar, Karachi, Thatta, Sujawal, Badin, Dadu, Hyderabad, Chor and Tando Jam in the Sindh province. Monsoon rains and subsequent flooding have left 90 people dead, 40 injured and large-scale infrastructural damage across Pakistan so far this year. Almost 900 houses have been fully damaged, while 195 have been partially damaged in the affected areas.

Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has confirmed 31 deaths in Sindh, 23 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 15 in Baluchistan, 10 in Gilgit Baltistan, 8 in Punjab and 3 in Pakistan Administered Kashmir during this monsoon season in Pakistan.

Many houses and public buildings, such as public hospitals, offices and schools, in rain-hit districts are flooded with rainwater and are currently inaccessible. The agrarian community has suffered even more massive damages to their land and harvests. Huge amounts of livestock in rural regions have also perished with the flash floods. Moreover, many rural communities in Badin and Tharparkar districts of Sindh have been displaced and have personally relocated to safer and more low-risk areas.

According to Pakistan Metrological Department, continued heavy rains and thunderstorms in lower Sindh are expected the week ahead which may further aggravate the situation. The Government of Sindh has therefore declared Emergency throughout the Sindh province.

Community World Service Asia’s (CWSA) Response

CWSA’s Emergency response team is currently providing emergency cash assistance to flood affected families in district Dadu and are engaged in relief operations responding to the needs of COVID-19 affected communities in district Umerkot and Karachi city of Sindh. The team is also regularly monitoring the rain and floods situation and plans to extend their humanitarian response to provide support to flood-affected communities in other areas when required.

Contacts:

Shama Mall
Deputy Regional Director
Programs & Organizational Development
Email: hi2shama@cyber.net.pk
Tele: 92-21-34390541-4 

Palwashay Arbab
Head of Communications
Email: palwashay.arbab@communityworldservice.asia
Tele: +92 42 3586 5338

Source:

www.ndma.gov.pk
www.tribune.com.pk
www.pmd.gov.pk

Naima, a 26 year old Afghan woman suffering from a physical disability she was born with, lives with her family in the Refugee Camp of Khaki District in Mansehra, Pakistan. She has two elder brothers who work as daily wage labourers, earning PKR 300 (US $ 1.78) a day. Their father is unable to work due to his old age and their mother is too weak to engage in any form of labour either. The family has been living in Pakistan since 1980 when they fled the war in Afghanistan.

“Naima was born a normal, healthy baby. But by the time she turned one we noticed that she could not move, crawl or try to stand. Both her legs started to look a bit unusual. We hurried to the closest doctor to get her checked. The doctor advised us that it would heal with time as she grew.  Sadly, just the opposite occurred. Her legs became more and more incapacitated with time and she could not walk at all,” shared Naima’s mother.

“To help us in any little way that she could, Naima started weaving from an early age and always helped us with small household chores. In 2017, Naima experienced another setback. Her right hand started showing signs of impairment which meant she was unable to move it much and eventually she couldn’t even engage in the activities that kept her busy and provided us financial support.”

In 2012, Naima’s sister-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. The family took her to a cancer hospital in Lahore, but she was refused treatment there due to her refugee status. She was then admitted in a private hospital in Lahore.

“We had to take a loan for the treatment of my daughter-in-law. We also received donations from our in-laws and community elders. Despite the generous donations, we were unable to afford all the expenses incurred at the private hospital. We were already unable to cover Naima’s medical expenses so this additional expense came as another burden on our shoulders.

Due to COVID-19, there are barely any work opportunities for my sons and we are all struggling to make ends meet. The family has not earned a penny since the lockdown in March. With a disabled daughter and an unwell daughter-in-law, it has become extremely difficult to manage our household expenses and put food on the table three times a day,” expressed Naima’s father with grief.

Community World Service Asia and Street Child – UK, with the support of the Commissionerate for Afghan Refugees (CAR) in Pakistan, conducted cash distribution activities under a ‘COVID-19 Rapid Response for Afghan Refugees in Pakistan’ project. As a project participant, the cash assistance provided to Naima’s family has brought some relief to the family.

“No organisation has come to our help. CWSA has been the first to respond to our grievance request. Upon receiving the cash support, I purchased food items and some medicines for Naima and my daughter-in-law. This support has provided some comfort for our families, as there was no source of income coming at home,” thanked Naima’s mother.

Ghulam Sher is a 45-year-old father of eight children, who migrated, along with his family to Pakistan as an Afghan refugee in 1980.  He was only five years old at the time. Today, Ghulam Sher has eight children of his own and they all live together in the Afghan Refugee Camp located in Khaki, Mansehra district.

At the age of eight, Ghulam Sher suffered from a paralysis which followed a severe case of typhoid that went untreated. This left him completely paralysed from down his waist for a long time. After undergoing a lengthy therapy, Ghulam Sher was able to move his arms and hands, but one of his legs and limbs remained paralysed for life.

Ghulam Sher verifying his token at the cash distribution activity.

“I did not lose hope in life. I learnt embroidery skills and started doing embroidery on men’s wear. Since the age of 15, I have been earning a sufficient income for my family through this work. However, when Afghans were requested to repatriate things became difficult for us here and we were left in an economic crisis. Many Afghan families were sent back to Afghanistan from the camp which meant I lost a lot of my clients and the demand for my products fell drastically. Eventually there was not much work left for me to do.

Shortly after, I set up a scarp shop, selling waste plastic pieces and tins which were collected and sold to me by local children. The earning was close to nothing but we were trying to survive.

Two months ago, I bought two large gas cylinders and started a small gas refilling business that would cater to domestic households. This helped me earn PKR 6000 (Approx. USD 37) monthly which was just enough to bear the minimum family expenses,” said Ghulam Sher.

Since a country-wide lockdown was imposed, Ghulam Sher’s business also had to be shut down at end of March, 2020. The restrictions on visiting households and delivering the gas refills personally lead to him discontinuing his services. Due to his physical disability, he was not able to find another job to earn an income either. His family was left without any livelihood.

To address this challenge, Community World Service Asia with the support of Street Child initiated a ‘COVID-19 Rapid Response for AR in Pakistan’ program in May. Under this project, cash vouchers were distributed among 150 Afghan Refugee families residing in Khaki Refugee Village of District Mansehra. The cash assistance intended to help one of the most vulnerable communities of Pakistan overcome the many challenges they were facing during the current pandemic.

Families who had lost their livelihoods amid the crisis, included 27 widows, 83 poor daily wagers, 4 orphans and 36 PWDsⁱ were nominated and verified by the Commissioner Afghan Refugee (CAR) office through UNHCR and NADRA database for the project. The distribution activity was conducted in a strict controlled and safe environment that ensured all precautionary SOPs were followed. Staff and refugee community members maintained social distancing and all stakeholders wore essential protective gears. To avoid cluster gathering, 12-15 families were called at the distribution point at a time at different time slots. Each family received PKR 12,000 (in line with Government of Pakistan’s AHSSAS Emergency Cash Program) after being presented with a token issued to them prior to the distribution. The head of Refugees Elders (Shura) Khaki, Refugee Village Administrator (RVA)/ Security in-charge District Administrator office Mansehra and a representative of Community Development Unit (CDU) from Commissioner A/R office were present during the distribution activity.

According to UNHCR, Pakistan hosts approximately 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees, approximately 68 percent of whom live in urban and semi-urban areas alongside Pakistani host communities. Half of the refugee population lives under the poverty line. Most of those who had employment, as daily wagers, have now been laid off as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Ghulam Sher was one of them.

“My elders who live here nominated me as a project participant in the COVID response project as they knew I was not able to find sufficient work because of my disability. I received PKR 12,000 under the rapid relief project. I plan to purchase essential food items and other necessities for my family. I will also pay off some of the loan I had taken to establish my shop.”


ⁱ Persons with disabilities

Photo Credit: Ali Hashisho/REUTERS

As a child immigrant of 5 years old, from Afghanistan’s Paktia province, Bibi Zahra, made the refugee camp in Mansehra Khaki, Pakistan her home for the last thirty years. She is now 35 years old and a mother to four children of her own. Her husband succumbed to cancer three years ago which has left Bibi Zahra a struggling, single mother in a foreign land.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Bibi Zahra and her eldest, 8-year-old daughter earned a monthly income of PKR 5000 (Approx. USD 32)through household cleaning work in the local neighbourhood. They cleaned dishes, served tables, washed clothes and other such domestic chores for a living. The income they earned was not much but it helped the family survive on a day-to-day basis. However, the COVID-19 crisis has further strained the family with more financial challenges and has even deprived them of a single decent meal.

Since there is widespread fear of the coronavirus being highly contagious, most homes in the neighbouring community have barred part-time domestic workers from entering their houses. Many local businesses are also suffering and cannot afford to offer credit services to their regular customers. Similarly, local shopkeepers are no longer providing credit services to Bibi Zahra to purchase essential food and household items. Many families like Zahra’s are left to depend on the in-kind or financial support of family and friends, whenever that is.

“I’m feeling helpless right now. I have no choice but to expect help from others. Neither the government nor any agency has offered any assistance. These days, I can hardly place food on the table for my children.”

Bibi Zahra confessed she faces a lot of mental stress because of the increased anxiety about the future of her family. She cannot even afford to buy her own medication at this point.

“I know only that this virus is extremely contagious and can be spread easily from one person to the next. I do not have protective items such as sanitizers or virus-protecting masks for myself or my family. I have barely enough money to purchase soap. I am more concerned about the well-being and safety of my children. Since my children barely get a proper meal a day, their health will suffer and they will become less immune to the deadly virus.”

As a result of the pandemic, their lives are at stake. Bibi Zahra spends every day worrying about the future of her children.

Theme and Purpose:

Theme of World Social Work Day for the year 2020 is “Promoting the Importance of Human Relationships”, which will be globally observed. Traditionally, existing relationships in the society based on some tested and sustainable norms and values and production activities are losing their entity at the advent of the forces of disequilibrium and failing to base on alternative legal and economic foundations. Public governance system has already surrendered to the market forces especially in economically challenged countries, where the sovereignty crisis has taken a new form and governments are relentlessly striving to overcome the crisis with all means. The vital work of social workers can be seen in a wide variety of settings “whether we work in physical health, mental health, schools, child protection, aged care, disability, family violence, academia or management, we bring the values of our profession to wherever we work.”

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As a component of Community World Service Asia and University of Peshawar’s collaborative interventions[1], a seven-day residential training on “Interactive Theatre for Influencing” was conducted at the University’s Baragali campus in the northern hills. Twenty-four aid workers and theatre activists from thirteen local NGOs and performing art groups participated in the training.

Participants were engaged in theoretical and practical learning exercises that aimed to improve acting skills and communication, enhance abilities, introduce stage ethics and sharpen dialogue delivery. The workshop style training also worked towards introducing and enhancing script writing techniques, issue identification and performance techniques among participants.

Practice sessions of real theatre plays were conducted as part of the training to enable the participants to link awareness raising on prominent issues with their play theme and performance.  They were sensitized on utilizing this art form to deliver messages of positive social change.  The various activities of the training provided participants with an opportunity to share experiences and ideas with each other that would help them in highlighting community issues through designing interactive theater performances in the future.

During the week-long training, participants developed action plans to ensure the implementation and application of the learning and techniques they had learnt in their respective communities. The training increased the capacity of local theatre groups to use theatre as a tool to influence communities to bring about progressive societal changes and uphold their rights. Participants also learnt theatre improvisation techniques such as effective use of body language, eye contact with the audience, balancing vocals and following a rhythm during the play to make more impact. All these skills would facilitate the theatre activists with helping rural and under-priviliged communities to overcome their collective issues and inspire positive perceptional changes,

Participants Voices

Interactive theatre for Influencing was a platform where I got the opportunity to get to know myself better and look at my capabilities from a different perspective. My confidence level boosted and as a result, I participated in the group exercises without hesitation. In addition, I was able to improve my vocal and dialogue delivery, body movement and gestures.

All participants were engaged in interactive activities through which we learnt how to engage and influence the audience in interactive theater performances. We appreciate the organization and the management team for providing learning opportunities to continuously upgrade our skills and deliver the content effectively.

Mujahid Ali, Programme Manager, Bunyad Literacy Community Council

This training played a vital role in educating me about the effective ways and tools that can be used for influencing communities. Such trainings are a source for personal development and knowledge building. We learnt different tools to bridge the knowledge gap existing in communities. The training enhanced the ability to highlight sensitive and ignorant problems prevailing in our society. I aim to utilize the theater delivery techniques shared in the training to achieve our objective of a progressive and developed society.

Tariq Khan, Livelihoods Officer, Secours Islamique France (SIF)

I had no prior knowledge of theatre before attending this training. This experience provided the history, types and the importance of theatre. The activities conducted during the sessions in the training built my confidence and allowed me to effectively influence communities and encourage change to make progressive societies.  Theater in one of the most effective ways to influence communities and encourage them towards development and change.

Misbah Naureen, Training Coordinator, Institute of Rural Management


[1] Under CWSA’s  Capacity Enhancement Project supported by Bread for the World

Hira Gul has worked in Pakistan’s development sector for more than 10 years. As a Community Mobilization Officer, Hira works with LASOONA to mobilize communities around improved livelihoods, governance reforms and health in Thana in the Malakand District. Her job is busy and multifaceted—she conducts sessions on developing market linkages, skill development, water and sanitation, inclusive development, improved governance, women’s empowerment and much more—and she is always eager to learn how to better support the communities she serves.

When Community World Service Asia announced the “Essentials of Social Mobilization” training, I immediately showed interest in attending the workshop as I was eager to learn modified and effective processes of social mobilization,

she shared.

Hira was one of 22 participants from five national nongovernment organizations who gathered in Peshawar in March 2019 to enhance their social mobilization skills to raise awareness of and demand for a particular development objective through dialogue. Lead Trainer Muazzam Ali, a seasoned expert in community mobilization with CWSA, facilitated the four-day training workshop on practical skills for successful social mobilization.

The training enhanced our understanding of social mobilization as an approach. We learnt the key elements and the true role of a social mobilizer. Basic communications skills, ethics and tools were provided for successful mobilization processes. Moreover, the training taught us how to manage community expectations and keep them engaged through the project life cycle, 

Hira recalled.

After the training, Hira said she was able to use the learning right away, including actively implementing the Do No Harm Policy while engaging communities in project activities.

In addition, through rapport building with women, I gave a session on the Do No Harm policy and mobilized them towards the outcomes of the project. This way the project participants are provided assistance with dignity and safety.

She also found the training useful in managing an ongoing conflict in communities she supported. Under LASOONA’s Governance Reform project, two communities in Union Council Miadam in Swat were engaged in a conflict in relation to Community Physical Infrastructure (CPI) Schemes. Thanks to Community World Service Asia, Hira managed to resolve the conflict through her learning she gathered from the session on Conflict Resolution.

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

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