Throughout my blog posts I’ve focused on poverty and its effects on the street children of Pakistan and how many of them have come to live on the streets in the first place. I’ve also discussed the healthcare and education systems, or lack thereof, and how these effect street children. For my final post I think it’s important for me to discuss the resources that are available to these kids which feed them, give them clothes and a place to stay, provide medical care and basic education, and provide them with hope and the skills they need to create a life off of the streets.
- The Azad Foundation (AF), based out of the city of Karachi, is one of the leading NGOs that has dedicated its efforts to supporting Pakistan’s street children. They are supported by UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund), and have been supporting street children since 2001. The Azad Foundation has really pulled through on so many levels. It seems that they cover all aspects of the issues at hand:
- Advocacy and fighting for the government to protect the rights of children
- Prevention and protection
- Social integration, rehabilitation, and re-integration
- Providing of food, hygienic facilities, medical care, and non-formal education
They go as far as tracking down family of the children, getting documentation for the children, and covering counseling expenses as well as traveling expenses to get them back to their families. They also provide skill development, vocational training, and job placement. AF has also introduced an biometric-based electronic child registration system for children on the streets of Karachi to support their birth registration. (Street Child United)
Pakistani street boys rehabilitated by the Azad Foundation.
The Azad Foundation is responsible for many projects all revolving around the well-being of children. (A full list of all of their projects can be found here.) One of the projects I feel is worth mentioning is the Sports for Development project, started in 2012. This project encourages team building skills, and teaches street children how to participate in and play football as a group. Nine of these children even went on to represent Pakistan in the 2014 Street Child World Cup, which is an international football event organized to acknowledge the rights of children living and/or working on streets around the world. They won the bronze medal and defeated India, Kenya, Mauritius and the Philippines. Below is a quote from the AF website which I found to be insightful:
Sport is recognized globally as means of healthy development of both children and adult. It is also proven to be the perfect vehicle for human development and peace-building in the society. Azad Foundation is utilizing the power of sports to engage children and vulnerable communities for protective and preventive measures.
This project has helped children from all over Pakistan. A ninth grader named Owais recounts his experience before and after joining the Azad Foundation football team. “When I was living in the street, no one treated me with respect; I did not know anything as I was illiterate. I was confused once I left home and the city was full of problems for me. Then I found a way through Azad Foundation who supported me and helped me in studies. Now I am in the ninth grade. After I started football I found new friends and now people respect me.” (The Citizen)
2. Slumabad is a unique organization that was created back in 2007 by Muhammad Sabir, a man who had grown up in poverty in the slums by Lahore. Growing up he had spent his time collecting trash and selling water bottles to make some money for his family. He would always try to read snippets of newspapers while on the job, though he was unable to read much at all. Eventually his parents allowed to go to a government school where he learned to read English and he began to read everything he could get his hands on. He continued collecting trash in the mornings, going to school during the day, and studying all night by candle light in his tent, since he did not have access to electricity. After reading Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, a story about a boy who overcame the struggles of his social class through hard work, he realized that his past did not define him or his future. He decided to devote himself to addressing the large issues of sanitation and education within slums of Pakistan. He helps children enroll in schools, builds mobile toilets for people in slums and is working on turning human waste into fertilizer and/or biogas to generate energy. He now is a fellow for the Emerging Leaders of Pakistan (ELP). He has visited the United States to meet with entrepreneurs, policymakers and civil society leaders to discuss practices that can be used in Pakistan. (Khawar)
3. Pakistan Society, the first NGO in Pakistan, was established in 1982 in Karachi and provides social services, educational services and health care for many people, but focuses highly on the youth. It started a drug harm reduction program and the HIV/AIDS Prevention Program for Injecting Drug Users. They created the shelter home and residential facility, called the Promise House, for street kids of Karachi who are solvent abusers. They provide them with food, clothing, a place to sleep, medical care, and counseling. They also help them through detox, provide non-formal education, and teach them trades that can provide some sort of an income. Their goal is to help them integrate back into society in a functional way. They provide 24-hour emergency medical care for street children to receive immediate attention. (Pakistan Society)
4. Nai Zindagi, (meaning “New Life” in English), is an NGO that has been in service for over ten years providing drop-in centers where street children can receive drug treatment and medical care. They’ve helped thousands of children all over Pakistan. They are the sponsor of Project Smile, which runs 8 hours a day, 6 days a week and provides them with food, clothing and basic health care. Project Smile conducted a survey where they asked street children to talk to them about their life circumstances. From the survey they found that self-harm was a very common problem among the children. Since then, they’ve provided self-harm reduction education. They also provide sexual education to them since HIV/AIDS is very common among them. They understand that it’s very hard to reach out and engage the children, which is why they know the importance of providing a drop-in center with extensive hours. (Towe, et al.)
5. Orphanages: On a previous blog post I received a question on whether or not Pakistan has orphanages. After doing research I found that there are orphanages throughout the country. A Pakistani organization has put together a comprehensive directory of the major NGOs in Pakistan, and lists all of the Pakistani orphanages. However, the organization who has compiled this list warns that it is highly recommended to review the credentials of each orphanage, and that orphanages in Pakistan have been known to be fronts for the trafficking of children. (KGM Consultants)
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Overall, the voices of the street children of Pakistan are starting to be heard. Many organizations and groups have started popping up all over Pakistan in the past couple decades in order to protect the rights of these children. Hopefully the Pakistani government will start implementing more laws, like the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2011, that give protection to the rights of children.
“Azad Foundation.” Azad Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2016. <http://www.azadfoundation.org/index.php>.
“Pakistan.” Street Child United. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2016. <http://www.streetchildunited.org/teams/pakistan/>.
“Brazil Beckons for Pakistan’s Street Kid Footballers.” The Citizen. N.p., 25 Mar. 2014. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.
“List of Orphans Care Centers in Pakistan.” Orphanages in Pakistan. KGM Consultants, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.
Khawar, Amna. “Surviving Pakistan’s Slums: The Extraordinary Story of Mohammad Sabir.” Dawn. N.p., 16 June 2015. Web. 13 Apr. 2016.
“Program For Street Kids.” Pakistan Society. N.p., 2012. Web. 13 Apr. 2016.
Towe, Vivian L. et al. “Street Life and Drug Risk Behaviors Associated with Exchanging Sex Among Male Street Children in Lahore, Pakistan.” The Journal of Adolescent Health : Official Publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.