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Most families in Anwar Pathan live in a joint family system. Early marriages and living in a big family bring along a lot of responsibilities for new and young brides in this community. The new bride is expected to take on all the home chores, go to the field and harvest the seasonal crops in addition to taking care of all the family members living in the house. A tremendous amount of burden is put on the little shoulders of a child bride. This naturally deteriorates her health. As you see, there are very few or almost no woman here who is overweight. This is because all women here work a lot and are weak due to the many burdens they bear since a very young age. If these women or girls complain even a little, it results in conflicts among family members,

shared a young man, named Gom Chand, who is a member of the Steering Committeeⁱ and Community Group set up in Anwar Pathan village, located in Umerkot district of Sindh province.

Gom Chand and his wife were only 14 years old when they got married. Four years on, now 18 years old, Gom Chand teaches at a local private school in Anwar Pathan.

Women in this village are not educated as most have not attended school and those who did get the opportunity, have only studied up till class 5. Even as a boy, I was forced to marry at a young age and had to leave my education, with no one encouraging me to continue studying. Instead, I was told to earn a living as I had to bring home money for my wife and bear family responsibilities. Soon after my wedding, I began work as a daily labourer, and earned a mere income of PKR 200 a day.

For many centuries, it has been a cultural norm to wed off young couples aged between 12 and 16 years in villages such as Anwar Pathan. Just as a child would be born, their families would start searching for a perfect matrimonial match for them and in many cases even engage them at birth and as soon as they would turn 12 years or reach their teens, they would be married off.

I never supported this idea though,

shared Gom Chand,

And as it turned out, I also suffered a lot by being married so young.

We are a family of six members, including my parents, wife and siblings. My relative, Chander, told me about the EVCⁱⁱ project as the team visited for an orientation meeting at the village. He shared the main objective of the project which was eliminating and discouraging the practice of early and childhood marriages. This convinced me to join the Steering Committee. I saw this as a platform to share my experiences and motivate the youth to gain education and build a bright future for themselves.

Fifteen of us, seven men and eight women, joined the Steering Committee of Anwar Pathan. As members of the committee, we largely work towards achieving for four key objectives. Firstly, we will build awareness on the importance and access to health care for men, women and children. We encourage women and children to avail proper healthcare treatments from the nearest health facility instead of always adopting traditional home remedies. Secondly, we discourage the practice of early childhood marriages. Thirdly, we are advocating for increasing girls’ education in the village. Since this is not encouraged much in our village, we are conducting meetings with parents who do not send their girls to school and are urging them to educate their daughters and sisters as it is equally important as is educating boys. Lastly, we are promoting the role of women in decision-making.

Gom Chand watched a theater play in Bharo Mil village which highlighted the disadvantages of early childhood marriage and encouraged communities to educate their children instead. The play exhibited how societies would flourish if their people and youth were well educated. Upon his return from Bharo Mil, Gom Chand felt the need of opening up a school for girls in his village. And he did as he had planned and did inaugurate a school in Anwar Pathan in March 2019. Gom Chand teaches at this school and earns a monthly income of PKR 14000.

There was no school in our village so no girl in our village ever went. With the help of a friend working in another welfare organization, I registered the school and encouraged parents to specially send their daughters and sisters to the school. Today, 45 girls and 12 boys are enrolled in this school and attend classes every day.

There are 10 pairs of Community Groups established in each village, each pair consisting of a man and a woman. Every one of these pairs is assigned five households to work with and build awareness on the same objectives as the Steering Committee. Gom Chand and his Shama, another resident of Anwar Pathan village, make up one these pairs.

The training that was organized on Gender and Women Empowerment on November 2018, and a refresher course that followed a year later in 2019,  delivered sufficient information on the fundamental rights of women and the importance of education, especially for girls. We understood how the existing gender issues in our community adversely affected the lives of.

Gom Chand and Shama held meetings with the five households allotted to them and encouraged women in those families to voice out their concerns and participate in decision-making processes.

Gom Chand’s brother, Prem Chand, was to be married at the end of 2019.

When I heard about the wedding preparations, I could not hold myself back from standing against this decision and lifelong tradition. He was just a 16-year-old boy and his bride to be was only 15-years-old. My father did not want to go forward with the wedding either but due to the pressure from my brother’s in-laws to be, my family decided to go with it. Shama and I visited the in-laws’ and tried to convince them on postponing the wedding. After hearing about my early marriage experience and the challenges my wife and I faced, the bride’s family postponed the wedding for three years.

In terms of contributing to women empowerment, Gom Chand encouraged his wife to further enhance her embroidery skills by enrolling her at a nearby vocational center. A District Engagement Groupⁱⁱⁱ member, named Shanti, helped him identify this center and facilitated them with the enrolment process.

A skill building training was held in Mirpurkhas to which I accompanied my wife, Pooja, every day for fifteen days as it is difficult to commute alone in this area. After successfully completing the training, Pooja received five sewing machines.

I am very proud of my wife as she teaches embroidery and stitching skills to other girls and women from our village at our home now. Fourteen woman and girls come to learn the use of different threads, design methods and colors. For running this home-based coaching center and working on orders, Pooja receives PKR 4000 monthly from PCDPⁱᵛ. The attendees of the centre pay a monthly fee of PKR 100. I can see the happiness in the eyes of my wife as this initiative has brought new meaning to her life.

Hina, 16 years, and Seeta, 15 years old, are two of Pooja’s students at the center.

Miss Pooja teaches us stitching and embroidery. We come to the center for four hours daily. If it wasn’t for this center, we would be doing home chores the whole day. This is a fun activity and us friends get to sit together, share jokes and learn new skills of designing and stitching,

 shared Hina.

A video screening, highlighting the goals of the Steering Committee and its role in promoting positive change in the communities by reducing early childhood marriage and motivating women towards decision-making, was organized on December 18th, 2019 in Anwar Pathan, by the Steering committee members.

The members of the committee invited the Chairman of the Union Council as a special guest at the screening. It was an honor to welcome a higher official in our village. The community members were excited to see the video as these visuals are appealing and conveyed the message very clearly. More than 250 people attended the video screening. It was a very proud moment for us.


ⁱ 22 Steering committees are formed in each village, comprising of 15 representatives with equal representation of male and female participants. The steering committee works on different issues of the village and supervises the Community Groups. They represent grass root level issues with civil society and local authorities at district level and work towards resolutions in collaboration with the EVC Team. The committees were formed in the month of August 2018.

ⁱⁱ   Every Voice Counts – Community World Service Asia and Care International’s project

ⁱⁱⁱ The District Engagement Group (DEG) comprises of district based Civil Society Organizations, Steering committees representatives and Social welfare department. The group is mandated to engage with different government departments for networking and influencing district public authorities, provincial level stakeholders and structures on implementation of laws and policies related to women empowerment.

ⁱᵛ Parkari Community Development Program

Seventy-three-year old Kasi, from village Ranahar of Umerkot district, takes care and provides for her bed-ridden son and his family. She works for agricultural produce on their local fields.

While sharing her challenges and talking about her sufferings of recent years, Kasi could not help but reminisce about their better days,

Just a few years ago we were leading a very happy life. My son earned PKR. 15,000 per month as a tractor driver. His monthly income was sufficient to meet our family’s needs. However, those days were short-lived as our happiness turned to sorrow when my husband started experiencing frequent chest pains and fever and had to leave his job. Soon after, just four years from today, he was diagnosed with asthma and severe lung illness which could lead to chest cancer within years if not treated properly. With his job gone and barely any income, we could not afford his medication which further aggravated his illness.

Kasi added,

Our worries further heightened when our agricultural fields completely dried up. The drought had struck our lands.  I was not even able to collect a single grain from our field in the last two years.  Only my God knows my struggle and how I was trying to feed my family since the last two years. Not even our neighbours or relatives were able to help us.

On March 2019 Kasi and her family were selected as participants of a drought response project implemented by Community World Service Asia and supported by Presbyterian World Service & Development and Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Through the project, Kasi’s family, along with ninety more severely drought-affected families in Ranahar village of Umerkot received six rounds of food packages.

Before receiving this food assistance, I used to start worrying about what we would eat each day at the first light of dawn. Having even a single nutritional meal seemed to be a challenge each day. But thankfully, I do not need to worry about that anymore. The food provided to us has saved us from many sufferings. The quality and quantity of food provided is much appreciated by all of us.

Kasi is happy that her family and other families affected by drought in the area will be assisted with food supplies for the next six months. This support will be sufficient to feed the families until their own agricultural produce can be harvested in September.

For a zero hunger world, people around the globe should eat healthy diets, the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said in a booklet that is released ahead of World Food Day on October 16.

The goal of the UN-mandated Sustainable Development Goals of meeting ‘zero hunger’, according to the document, can be met by eating more seasonal fruits and vegetables and reducing the consumption of junk food. Over 820 million people — approximately one in nine people around the world — were hungry, and malnutrition affected one in every three people, the FAO noted.

To share the learning, Community World Service Asia organized a session in the village of Padmoo Bheel Union Council Khararo Charan, District Umerkot on October 16. Fifteen men and women from the community participated in the activity. The session focused on the theme which said “Our Actions Are Our Future. Healthy Diets for a #ZeroHunger World”. As a result of globalization, urbanization and income growth, our diets and eating habits have changed. The event generated awareness who suffer from hunger and increased knowledge for food security and nutritious diet intakes for all. Communities were sensitized on ensuring food security in households and how to avoid wasting food at home, marriage ceremonies and other communal gatherings.

Community Voices:

The session was very informative in terms of learning how to avoid food wastage and eat healthy food items for better health. New learning for me was food being our fundamental and basic right.

Janat from Padmoo Bheel village, Umerkot

It is important to make food as per the needs and number of people. Excess food often is wasted which is not good. The session shed light on how food is made excessively in communal gatherings and is wasted in large number. We will in the future make the food according to the need and number of people.

Ranjeet from Padmoo Bheel village, Umerkotet

Pribhat theater group performing a play on the role of rural women in climate resilience.

Community World Service Asia, in collaboration with the Social Welfare Department and District Engagement Group[1] (DEG) Umerkot, celebrated the International Day of Rural Women 2019 to pay tribute to the rural women who are playing a vital role in the development of their communities. More than three hundred people attended the event.  Participants of the celebratory event included representatives from the district administration, police force, local government, the Population Welfare Department, Women Development Department, civil society organizations, teachers, artisans and the rural women of the district.

At the event, rural women were awarded appreciation shields for their proactive role in promoting socio-economic and cultural development in their communities. A local theater group, named Pirbhat, performed a play that conveyed messages on the role of rural women in societal development and climate change awareness as part of one of the event. The play was emotional in nature and gave a strong message. As part of the event format, participating human rights defenders, specialists and relevant government representatives gave inspirational speeches and acknowledged the contribution of women in socio-economic development, food security and rural development. Stall was set which displayed handcrafted apparel and home accessories produced by rural artisans.

Contributions and Challenges of Rural Women

The crucial role that women and girls play in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities and their overall contribution towards improving rural livelihoods and community wellbeing has lately been increasingly recognized. Women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labor force, including informal work, and perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work within families and households in rural areas. They make significant contributions to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management, and building climate resilience.

Structural barriers and discriminatory social norms continue to constrain women’s decision-making power and political participation in rural households and communities. Women and girls in rural areas lack equal access to productive resources and assets, public services such as education and health care, and infrastructure, including water and sanitation, while much of their labor remains invisible and unpaid, even as their workloads become increasingly heavy due to the emigration of men. Globally, with few exceptions, every gender and development indicator for which data are available reveals that rural women fare worse than rural men and urban women and that they disproportionately experience poverty, exclusion and the effects of climate change.

The impacts of climate change, including on access to productive and natural resources, amplify existing gender inequalities in rural areas. Climate change affects women’s and men’s assets and well-being differently in terms of agricultural production, food security, health, water and energy resources, climate-induced migration and conflict, and climate-related natural disasters.

Comments from Speakers

Rashida Saand, renowned women’s rights worker from Umerkot, commented during her speech,

We believe that rural women have unique ideas and indigenous solutions to solve the current challenges facing a society that must be heard by the government and decision-makers. To benefit from the wisdom of women, community organizations must amplify the voices of rural women and call for women’s inclusion in the decision-making process at all levels.

Tarique Waheed Baloch from Women Development Department said that, on the occasion of the International Day of Rural Women,

They shall be encouraged to struggle for their just right of education, social welfare, and their legitimate rights. Village girls should be encouraged to get an education and step ahead in the field. Rural women face, among other problems, under-age marriages, and domestic violence, while they also share in work with men in agriculture and livestock farming besides sewing and embroidery. The government should ensure that technical training programs for rural women in the field of vocational training be started to provide them with opportunities to earn better incomes and live a better life along with educating their children.

Muhammad Bux Kumbhar, DEG member, said the observance day recognizes,

The critical role and contribution of rural women in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty. As the world faces a critical need to act against climate change, this year’s theme highlights the important role that rural women and girls play in building resilience to face the climate crisis. Rural women represent the backbone of many communities, but they continue to face obstacles that prevent them from realizing their potential. The devastating impacts of climate change add to their hardship. Almost a third of women’s employment worldwide is in agriculture. Women cultivate land, collect food, water, and essential fuels, and sustain entire households, but lack equal access to land, finances, equipment, markets and decision-making power.

The guest of honor, Dr. Rubi Dharmdas from Umerkot, paid thanks and applauded Community World Service Asia, the Social Welfare Department Umerkot and District Engagement Groups for organizing such a great event to pay tribute to rural women. She added,

The contribution of the rural women is not being given due importance. Moreover, the right to basic facilities such as education and health are also overlooked. This is a great tradition initiated by Community World Service Asia to honor rural women by giving them due respect in terms of awards, as it will encourage many rural women to play a vital role in society.


[1] The District Engagement Group (DEG) comprises representatives from district-based CSOs, Steering Committees and Social Welfare Department responsible for networking and influencing relevant stakeholders and government departments on implementation of laws and policies related to women empowerment.

Health sessions were conducted where community members were provided with IEC material for better understanding to build a hygienic living environment.

Community World Service Asia (CWSA) provides basic health services with a focus on Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Care (MNCH) under its Umerkot Health Project, supported by Act for Peace. The project is implemented in two Taluka Headquarter Hospitals (THQs) in district Umerkot, namely THQ Pithoro and THQ Samaro.

Free medical camps are set up, under the health project, to bring health care and health education to vulnerable populations who have no access to basic health care services or knowledge about diseases. The medical camps aim at providing free medical advice, medicine and referrals for specialized treatment if required. These camps make sure that people receive health care at the right time and see a doctor early enough before a small health problem turns serious.

The health team organized a free medical camp on September 24, 2019, in the village of Maryam Nagar, Taluka Pithoro, District Umerkot. This village is nine kilometers away from THQ Pithoro and lacks a regular transport facility in the area. Patients from more than four surrounding villages came to the camp for treatment; in total, 127 patients were treated, including 55 women and 7 men, 29 girls and 36 boys. Five antenatal care (ANC), three postnatal care (PNC), and six family planning patients were diagnosed and provided with medical services. The remaining 113 patients were treated through the outpatient department and provided with free medicine. Major diseases diagnosed and treated during the camp were anemia, scabies, musculoskeletal pain, diarrhea and ear and eye infections.

The Village Health Committee (comprised of both women and men) was involved in organizing the camp and facilitating the patients, while community mobilizers delivered health education sessions to women, men and children on food and nutrition as well as on the causes, symptoms and preventive measures for malaria and dengue fever. The community mobilizers also distributed Information, Education and Communication (IEC) material on related topics.

The Government Girls Primary School (GGPS) Abdul Wahid Colony in Umerkot, Pakistan, was struggling with low enrollment, low attendance and low engagement from the School Management Committee (SMC). In 2015, the school had a total of 80 students, with only 20 students newly enrolled. Sami, the school’s principal, identified several reasons.

Weak infrastructure and limited basic facilities discourage parents from sending their children to schools in Umerkot. Moreover, far off distances, social evils and child labor contribute to the high illiteracy rate as well. Teachers in schools often use old methodologies of teaching, such as reading the lessons, giving lectures and assigning lengthy homework. As a result, students do not have positive outcomes and lose interest in studies,

she said.

In 2016, Community World Service Asia invited teachers from the school to attend Teachers’ Trainings as part of the Girls’ Education Projectⁱ.  In 2017 and 2018, six teachers from GGPS Abdul Wahid Colony—Sakeena, Mariat, Mohni, Naheed, Tania and Sami—were trained on pedagogical skills, early childhood care and education (ECCE) teaching methodologies and implementation of the Scheme of Studiesⁱⁱ.

When Community World Service Asia came to us,

said Sami,

things started to change gradually.

Putting New Methods into Action

Sami was pleased with how practical and hands-on the trainings were, packed with new strategies they could implement right away. For example, they learned about new ways to engage with their students, such as involving them in morning meetings to increase social interactions and in practical work to build interest in learning. The training also placed strong emphasis on lesson planning, which has renewed the teachers’ excitement and dedication to their lessons.

Naheed attended a Teachers’ Training focused on ECCE Scheme of Studies and ECCE Methodologies in January 2019. Back in the classroom, she began implementing new teaching methodologies involving group work, pair activities and learning through play. Since then, Sami observed,

Students have become confident and regularly attend school, as they are enjoying their studies.

Sharing her learning experience, Naheed said,

We have developed a different attitude towards our students after the trainings. The child-friendly environment created in our classrooms has encouraged students to learn more freely and ask questions frequently without any hesitation. The quality of education has improved immensely as students are more engaged in active learning.

Naheed and the other teachers have also worked to increase teacher-parent interaction, with positive results among both students and their parents.

Parents are more involved in their children’s education updates and have witnessed the support the teachers give to their students in school. We have received positive feedback regarding teachers’ behavior with their children and the children’s increased interest in studies,

Sami added.

The students have noticed the difference. Humera, a student from class 4, shared,

There is so much change in our classroom. Our teacher, Naheed, encouraged us to participate in sports and cultural events and academic activities. We meet with students from different schools in these events and now I have made many friends in Umerkot. My parents motivate me to study hard after the parent-teacher meetings. They are very supportive and helpful, especially when I do my homework.

Reinvigorating the School Management Committee

The School Management Committee (SMC) of GGPS Abdul Wahid Colony is comprised of a General Secretary, a chairman, two teachers, two parents and two students. Its primary functions are to monitor teacher attendance, increase student enrollment and build awareness among parents on the importance of education for their children. It also holds administrative functions such as organizing co-curriculum activities, monitoring provision of free textbooks and disbursing SMC funds for improving the school. Unfortunately, the committee had not been fully engaged in its duties.

Abdul Razzaque, Senior MEAL Officer at Community World Service Asia, conducted a session for the SMC in February 2018, emphasizing the key role of the SMC in strengthening relationships between the schools and local communities. He highlighted each of the SMC’s functions and why it was important.

Shahida, who has served as the chairman of the SMC since 2017, said the difference was dramatic.

It was after the teachers’ training and SMC session that the SMC of Abdul Wahid Colony was actively involved in the school’s operations and academic decisions. The learnings provided by Community World Service Asia further built on our capacities to work towards better outcomes for our students, teachers and the entire school system,

 she said.

Sami is very pleased with the progress she has seen at the school since her team started to work with Community World Service Asia and implement what they learned through Teachers’ Trainings.

This year we have enrolled 60 new students, and today, a total of 210 students are studying in GGPS Abdul Wahid Colony. Moreover, 50% of the parents come to us for regular updates regarding their children’s progress after the Parent-Teacher meeting held in collaboration with Community World Service Asia,

she said.


ⁱ Improving Access and Quality of Education for Girls in Umerkot Project is implemented by Community World Service Asia with the support of Act for Peace.

ⁱⁱ A guideline for teachers that defines the structure and content of an academic course, its learning outcomes.

Representative of University of Agriculture Tando Jam delivering a presentation.

Water scarcity is one of the main challenges for communities in the Thar Desert, which also includes almost half of Umerkot district. During field operations, Community World Service Asia and partners observed significant negative impact on the lives and well-being of the local communities from chronic water shortage and drought, putting these communities at high risk. Their main sources of income are agriculture and livestock, which are totally dependent on the availability of water. Owing to these issues, Community World Service Asia is partnering with Community World Service Japan (CWS Japan) and Japan Conservation Engineers & Company Limited (JCE) to implement an emergencies project to enhance drought-related disaster resilience by improving access to water and supporting drought-resilient agricultural practices in Umerkot district.

Under this project, the partners organized a one-day workshop on August 30, 2019, to determine how various stakeholders within government and non-government organizations can better coordinate to resolve these issues. Key questions to explore included how to determine the best locations for well digging; how technologies can be used to identify potential areas for aquafers; and how communities and relevant government departments can support the maintenance of these resources to make them more sustainable.

The training drew an estimated 25 participants from government departments such as the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), Arid Zone Agriculture Research Institute (AZRI), Extension Department, Pakistan Meteorological Department, Sindh University of Tando Jam, Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) Sindh, Public Health Engineering Department (PHED), and Water Management Department as well as staff from Community World Service Asia.

Mir Hassan from Community World Service Asia started the workshop with an overview of the project and its stakeholders. During the training, the participating government agencies were given a chance to share about their roles, responsibilities and achievements in the field of disaster management to highlight best practices and find synergies in support of the at-risk communities. Representatives from PDMA Sindh, Sindh University of Tando Jam and Pakistan Metrological Department began by presenting their work and areas of expertise.

Then the lead trainer, Takeshi Komino of CWS Japan, shared the findings of the field visit with the workshop participants and discussed where collaboration is required to address the water-related issues of the communities. He also shared how potential areas for digging wells can be determined in cheaper and more appropriate ways using technology and how Electrical Resistivity Surveys can be done at specific locations to get clean water.

Then the representative from PDMA Sindh, Ajay Kumar, shared about their mandate and the response they have extended to the drought-affected communities to date. The representative of the Sindh University of Tando Jam, Arshad Narejo, followed by sharing about their work in the field of Disaster Risk Management. Then a representative from the Pakistan Meteorological Department, Abid Laghari, shared about their research and existing resources and how one can efficiently utilize meteorological data to minimize a community’s vulnerability to drought and other disasters.

The workshop was concluded with a note of thanks by Komino for the participants’ collaboration and expertise in service to the communities affected by the drought.

The role of the community members in the education system is immensely valuable.  It can lead to greater advantages in terms of improved school functions, low dropout rates and increased positive attitude of parents toward the schools. Community participation contributes in strengthening the education system as a whole,

shared Saleem Malik, Chairman of the School Management Committee (SMC) at Government Girls Campus Pithoro. Located in Umerkot city, the school has a total enrollment of 80 girl students. According to Saleem, the inactive role of the SMC in the planning, implementation and monitoring of developmental programs for the school has decreased academic achievement.

92% of the SMC members have not appeared in meetings or have not attended any training in relation to school management. They did not have a clear idea of their responsibilities towards the development of the school until they attended the session conducted by Community World Service Asia.

The SMC session conducted in March 2019 by Farhat Fairy, Project Officer at Community World Service Asia, was attended by 7 SMC members including parents, students, community members and head teacher.

The session was very informative and effective. We learnt about the important functions of the SMC including monitoring teachers’ attendance, utilizing the SMC funds to improve schools’ infrastructure, disbursement of stipends to girl students and sensitizing parents on the importance of education. We initiated quarterly meetings to implement the learnings of the session. The SMC encouraged mothers of children in the school to participate in meetings and as a result, mother of 10 students attended the first quarterly meeting in April 2019. This achievement shows that parents are realizing the importance of education and are eager to send their children to school for quality education, especially girls,

 said Saleem.

The school has been associated with Community World Service Asia since 2018, under the Girls’ Education Project[1].

The Teachers’ Trainings trained our teachers on Positive Learning Environment and ECCE[2] Methodologies and Scheme of Studies. Two of our teachers participated in the trainings which were held on November 2018 and January 2019. They implemented the learning in the school and introduced new teaching methodologies, creating child-friendly classrooms. Students now feel comfortable in asking questions and are engaged in practical activities which have built the confidence level of the girls, 

shared Saleem. The new teaching methodologies, according to Saleem, have improved student relations with fellow classmates and the teachers. Group work activities have encouraged team building and strengthened communication skills in the students’ learning processes.

Seema, a teacher from Government Girls Campus Pithoro, said,

We have made the classroom rules with the students. The involvement of students in rule-making processes have helped them set their own boundaries, and learn the difference between what is right and wrong. They actively follow the rules in the classrooms as they have set these rules. The rules are listed on a chart paper and displayed on the wall for every student to read in the classroom.

As a teacher, Seema feels that the teacher’s positive and friendly gestures in the classroom reflect the behaviors of children.

By being cheerful and active in class, children will be encouraged to do the same. If we follow the rules, the students will also be motivated to follow the same. Likewise, if a child breaks any rule, we as teachers should act calmly and explain the child what they have done wrong, rather than being aggressive or loud. The trainings have helped in transforming our attitudes with the students, consequently building a trustworthy and friendly relationship between us.

Nisha, a student of class 5, shared,

All girls in the classroom are friends together. Our teacher, Ms. Seema, has taught us to act kindly and friendly with students of other classes as well. She continuously encourages us to behave at our best. Moreover, I encourage other students to construct their own classroom rules to follow so that they can also have a clean and well-behaved classroom like ours.


[1] Improving Access and Quality of Education for Girls in Umerkot Project, implemented by Community World Service Asia and supported by Act for Peace.

[2] Early Childhood Care and Education

Kamla is a 16 years old artisan and member of the Women Enterprise Group (WEGs) working for Taanka. She belongs to the Kharoro Charan village of district Umerkot and lives with her seven siblings and their widowed mother in a one-room house. Their father passed away two years ago. Kamla and all her siblings are currently unmarried. While their two youngest brothers attend school, none of the others are currently studying. The highest any of the older siblings have studied is till 8th grade.

With tailoring being a sort of family profession, as their late father worked as a tailor in Karachi, Kamla’s  eldest brother also worked as a tailor, for which he left the village for Karachi soon after he graduated from class 8, to learn the skill from his father and earn an income for the family. Two more of Kamla’s brothers are also currently working near the village to earn a livelihood for their family.  One runs a general store of his own, while the other mends embroidery machines. Together the two brothers earn around PKR 15000 (Approx. USD 95) a month.

Taanka not only employs Kamla, but two of her sisters as well. All three sisters work as artisans for the social enterprise brand that sells high-end fashion and home products in large urban centres like Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad.  The sisters worked very hard on the handicrafts they produced and earned well from it whenever they got orders. Kamla was the most highly educated among all three of them and had further enhanced her skills. She really enjoyed studying as well but had to leave school after grade 8 as none of her brothers could accompany her to school.

Kamla’s education expenses beyond primary level were paid for by my brother. I wish she could continue, but this is not possible. How will we make both ends meet if she leaves her handicraft work and starts studying again?

expressed Kamla’s mother.

Financial problems in Kamla’s household heightened when her eldest brother returned to Kharoro Charan from Karachi because of his receding health and a newly diagnosed mental disorder where he kept forgetting and repeating things. With the little savings that he returned with, he planned to build a house.

Our brother first constructed a toilet as we did not have a toilet in our house. Soon after the toilet construction was completed, he collapsed and has never been normal ever since. The construction work was stopped immediately because he needed treatment and the money he had saved had to be prioritized for his medical treatment,

Kamla said.

The brother’s health has now exacerbated to a situation where the family experiences sudden and repeated episodes of aggressive and violent behavior and angry verbal outbursts. He also breaks and tears apart the family’s belongings.

In most of rural Sindh, it is considered against the local culture for women to work outside their homes. Therefore, many women utilize their time working on ethnic embroideries and stitching apparel and home accessories; a skill that is passed on through generations. As per local tradition, the women are supposed to hand-embroider and stitch products for their own dowry or that of their daughters.  Keeping this ancient local tradition alive, Kamla and her sisters learnt embroidery at a very young age at home and hand-crafted most of their own clothes. Kamla particularly enjoyed this the most. Before working for Taanka, her sisters and she used to receive apparel design and embroidery orders from the Gumbar community in the neighboring village.

The money we made through personal orders was far too less compared to our expenses, raw materials or the time we spent on making them. Collectively, the three of us hardly made around PKR 5000 (Approx. USD 31) a month.

Kamla herself has not participated in any of the vocational trainings that WEG members of Taanka had been engaged in. She enhanced her in-born handcrafting skills through learning from her aunts and sisters who actually took part in the trainings organized by Community World Service Asia and its partners’ project to develop and strengthen the Taanka brand.

I feel motivated to work on new designs every day because the wages I earn through Taanka orders are fair. I learn new designs every day through the orders we receive from urban clients. The work is entirely different from what we did growing up. Designs are diverse, the fabric type is very thin, and there are different kinds and colors of threads and needles. In the past we have worked only on Pashanⁱ fabric, but through Taanka, I had the opportunity of embroidering designs on pure silk fabric too,

shared Kamla excitedly.

Kamla says that their mirror work is really appreciated by designers and they are receiving more orders for mirror work. Currently, she is embroidering mirrors on a daisy colored jacket. The three sisters collectively make PKR 25000 (Approx. USD 160) monthly through Taanka orders now.

The majority of what we earn is spent on our brother’s treatment. We also meet other household expenses with our earnings such as food, fetching water, and paying for our younger brother’s education expenses. Financial conditions of other artisans working with Taanka are also rapidly changing for the better.

I think women should not hesitate to learn new things. When we learn new things, we bring change in our lives and the lives of our loved ones,

says Kamla, wanting to motivate other aspiring artisans.

Kamla is an expert in hand embroidery now but she also wants to learn modern tailoring in the future.  With the little she is able to save after contributing to all the family expenses, Kamla wants to fulfil some of her own dreams too.

When I had to discontinue education, I felt very upset because my friends continued education but I could not. The day I am able to save up a lot of money from our Taanka earnings, I will go back to school, buy myself beautiful payal (anklets), matha patti (head jewellery), restart the construction work of our home, and will learn English. When I was in school, English was my favorite subject

, she said.


ⁱ A graphic embroidered silk with a jubilant festival spirit.

A training on kitchen gardening was organized in the last week of  June for twenty two women farmers of village Mandhal Thakaur located in Umerkot District of Sindh, Pakistan. This training was conducted as a key component of the Food security and drought response project supported by CGFB & PWS&D.

Through the day-long training, rural women gardeners were taught about the composition of gardening plots and were shown different ways of protecting their crops against diseases and insects. Economic and nutritional value of the harvested vegetables was highlighted as part of the training, and participants were made aware of the seasonal calendar of locally grown vegetables and how the growth and size of the harvest is affected by inclement weather. After the training, the women kitchen gardeners prepared patches of land to grow a variety of vegetables including okra, mung bean, brinjal, wild melon, cluster beans and ridge gourd. Their gardens now provide them and their families a variety of good quality home-grown vegetables which has improved their nutritional conditions as well as food diversity.

Here is a short video that captures participants of the training engaged in practical gardening exercises to prepare their land for cultivation and sowing seeds. While they are at it, these energetic and humble kitchen gardeners recite Gayatar Manthar, culturally considered one of the oldest and most powerful of Sanskrit mantras sung to cultivate agrarian lands in this region.