Disaster Relief Effort
On October 19, 2005 the organization launched its Disaster Relief Effort in Kashmir in response to the devastating October 8, earthquake. Prompted by the need Concern for Children (CFC) assessed its own potential to become involved in relief efforts. The organization's effort began with a plea for private and corporate donation. Within a few hours, donations began to flow in, making a relief effort possible. Next, CFC collaborated with Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO) for logistical support from Islamabad. A team of doctors led by Dr. D. S. Akram from the Pakistan Pediatric Association (PPA) joined the effort, alongside CFC volunteers and staff. The date set for departure was October 19, 2005.
A 25-person team, consisting of 12 doctors, three CFC staff and ten CFC volunteers set out for Islamabad . The team arrived in Gharri Dupatta, in Azad Jammu Kashmir's (AJK) Jhellum Valley. Upon arrival, the team set up tents for both the medical camp and housing within the premises identified for the team by SPO. The CFC team arrived with approximately $25,000 in relief goods. These supplies included tents, blankets, powdered milk, clean drinking water, ration, sanitary supplies, medical supplies and medication. Upon conducting a rapid needs' assessment of the community's existing amenities, a field hospital, was discovered by CFC volunteers, approximately half a kilometer from the present camp.
This field hospital had been set up by the US non profit organization, Operation Heartbeat (OHB) established by Cardio Thoracic Surgeon, Dr. Farzad Najam. Dr. Najam and a team of 15-20 doctors from North America set up a mobile operating theatre and had begun providing medical relief to over 400 patients per day. CFC worked together to organize supplies, logistics and staff for these medical camps. Furthermore, CFC collaborated with Greenstar Social Marketing, who was instrumental in the success of this project, as they sent teams of doctors weekly to staff the camps.
The majority members of the OHB team were relieved by the CFC relief team. The two organizations continued to work together, as specialized doctors, mental health practitioners and volunteers continued to be an integral aspect of this work and continued to relieve relief workers each week. As the Pakistan Army set up army camps in newly reached areas, OHB and CFC were contacted to set up field hospitals or satellite medical camps in those areas. CFC continued to coordinate teams of doctors, volunteers, trekkers and mental health practitioners to the effected areas in both Jhellum and Neelam Valleys for a six month period (October 2005-April 2006).The medical camps serviced an approximated 300 patients per day, with the number often sky rocketing to over 500 per day.
Kashmir Relief: Building a Model for a 30 day Pakistan Disaster Relief Effort
CFC aims to build models for sustainable development for children in at-risk populations. In accordance with the organization's mission, CFC's relief effort in Kashmir was carried out in an effort to develop a model for Pakistan disaster relief. CFC successfully dispatched weekly relief teams to various locations in the Jhellum Valley , i.e. Cham, Bagh, Bandi Chakkan, Sina Daman, and several other locations, from our base camps in Gharri Dupatta and Chikar. The doctors and mental health practitioners on the CFC relief teams were provided by the Pakistan Pediatric Association, Greenstar Social Marketing and the Pakistan Association of Mental Health; volunteers arrived from Pakistan , the United States , the United Kingdom , India , Switzerland , Germany , Sweden and several other locations to join CFC's efforts. This effort would not have been possible without support from the Pakistan Armed Forces, Operation Heartbeat, Greenstar Social Marketing and Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO). The models will be published by June 2008.
Mental Health Initiative
While conducting work in the health camps, volunteer doctors began to report cases as high as 70% of patients seen to present psychosomatic symptoms. In response to this overwhelming need, CFC introduced its Mental Health Initiative. CFC launched a Mental Health Project in Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) on December 6, 2005. The first Mental Health Worker training was conducted on December 6-10, 2005. Twenty-seven individuals received training from a certified mental health practitioner; of this number, five trained individuals were selected for hire as Grassroots Mental Health Workers. The programs objectives was to Coordinate mental health treatment by training 500 mental health workers serving the victims of the earthquake moreover hiring 40 mental health workers, who will receive refresher trainings and train staff at their placements: schools, health centers, et cetera. Also In line with CFC's organization mission: to build models for sustainable development, provide a model for Pakistan Disaster Relief for replication in similar socio-economic settings. This project successfully met several projected objectives. It aimed to provide training to 500 individuals, yet these trainings reached well over 700 individuals. The program hired a total of 28 out of the proposed 40 workers due to a limited amount of individuals who were able to conduct the required work. These workers provided mental health services to those affected by the October 2005 earthquake in several locations: home visits, schools, relief camps, as well as informal locations such as roadsides, homes of relatives, et cetera. Materials were used to conduct art and play therapy exercises. Those clients who were trailed by the mental health workers for a consistent period of time indicate healthier normative functioning at the time of termination of counseling services (as is noted per the written documentation prepared by the mental health workers).
On December 10, 2005 CFC launched the education component of its Kashmir Relief project, by establishing a co-ed primary tent school based in the Hattian Bala tehsil in Bandi Chakkan. The education component, "Project Kitab", a pilot project, aims to build an education system in a ten mile radius of Bandi Chakkan. Bandi Chakkan is a small, remote community of approximately 1200 people. Prior to the earthquake this school of 150 pupils operated out of the only teacher's house and was a severely under-funded government school. The earthquake caused the death of six children and total destruction of the building. The school was subsequently run from a single tented 'classroom' with low pupil attendance. Due to the disruption of schooling, Bandi Chakkan chose not to close for the winter vacation, thus making their need immediate.
The community has been empowered by the provision of the essential school supplies, complete stationary, blackboards, heaters, curriculum textbooks and tents for both teaching purposes and administration offices. Aid was also provided in the form of warm clothing, blankets and heaters for the winter months, an important incentive to increase pupil attendance. Teacher training from volunteers and administrative guidance will become central to the running of the school; in March 2006, CFC brought 5 teachers and 1 custodian onto its payroll in order to begin this process.
In the long-term Bandi Chakkan will be used as a model of self-sufficient, effective administration and teaching in primary schools. This will be achieved by providing teacher training and administrative guidance to the staff. As the project progresses, Project Kitab will expand its services within the region. The first pilot project will attempt to provide services in a ten mile radius of this initial school structure. In June 2006 CFC received funding from the Australian High Commission through its Direct Aid Program to equip the school building with necessary materials.
Pediatric and gynecology camps
In June 2004 CFC began hosting pediatric and gynecology camps. This project was held in collaboration with doctors from the pediatric unit at Lyari general hospital, gynecologist from Qatar hospital and dermatologists from the Institute of skin diseases. Approximately 325 patients attended these camps who Were provided free treatment, referrals and medication.
Baba Island Project
Baba Bhit Island is an approximated 4 square km area located near Karachi Port Trust (KPT) with a population of approximately 12,000 people. The area has been severely neglected by the government in provision of basic amenities for the residents of this area, as it is cut off from the mainland. In July 2002, at a CFC health camp in Baba Island , patients were given free consultations, referrals, and medication. CFC established a Mother Child Health Center (MCH) at Baba Island from 2002-2004. The MCH provided the community's residents with primary health care services, general healthcare treatment, anti-natal and post-natal services, and served as a referral base. Medication for this project was donated by GSK.
Health Awareness Campaigns
According to a World Health Organization (WHO) estimate, a large majority of children in developing countries, living in poverty with inadequate access to hygiene and sanitation are highly susceptible to develop worm infestations. CFC teamed up with doctors and students from the Fatima Jinnah Dental College (FJDC) to undertake a research project to learn about the effects of worms and de-worming treatment on children within high-risk groups. An informational camp was held in targeted schools where doctors interacted with students and provided information on basic oral healthcare and intestinal worm infestations. Following the informational camp CFC provided approximately 1,000 students with de-worming treatment. All project services were provided free of cost to service recipients. CFC's Mohammadi Machar Colony Community Driven Development Project continues to facilitate Health Awareness Camps on a quarterly basis.
Computer Literacy Program
In 1999, 200 computers were donated to CFC by GSK. CFC initiated a computer literacy program utilizing these computers for low-income schools across Karachi . The first phase of this project was undertaken in partnership with Faran Educational Society (FES) to provide quality education to four low-income schools in Orangi Town . Due to the joint collaboration between CFC, GSK, FES and the schools, the total cost of this project was approximately Rs. 141.00 per child. In the second phase of this project, CFC donated 25 computers to schools run by The Citizens Foundation (TCF); computer training has been provided to these TCF students. Additionally, CFC assisted Mariam High School in Azam Basti to establish a computer library on its premises and provide computer training to their students. At the project's end, the staff at these schools was trained to facilitate in-house computer literacy. Over 7000 children have had access to these computers.