We seek to bridge gaps between religious minorities and practitioners of mainstream religions in the country through our ‘Adopt a Community’ program. This program has been lauded as a courageous and groundbreaking effort in a country grappling with religious extremism, bigotry and intolerance.
We have worked extensively on promoting and protecting Child Rights, a hallmark of our recognition. At the same time, we have also initiated projects with tabooed groups such as Zenanas (men who identify themselves as women), and massage boys and men who may enter safe-sex relationships to survive.
Our 12-year-long efforts have pioneered not only research, but activism in these areas as well.
1. Child Rights
a) Hath Mein Hath project (joining hands)
This process was started in the year 2004 in partnership with European Commission and this partnership has been consistently renewed for last seven years till now. In this process according to a very modest estimation VISION has reached out to approximately 7,000 to 8,000 children on the street. With all its challenges and lack of supporting state infrastructure VISION has been successful in reunifying approximate 17,500 to 2,000 of these children with their families.
Similarly, it has been able to provide till to date safe shelter to numerous children who sometimes work as a transit point for them to get away from streets and negotiate their way back to their own homes. In addition to this, on daily basis VISION provides safe shelter, food, sport and educational activities, healthy and age appropriate recreational environment through its safe space for children.
One of the many success stories emanating from this process of VISION is documented at the end of this progress report (Story written for website). VISION has been nominated as a lead agency to implement two initiatives on child rights in the national plan of action by National Commission on Children and Women Development (NCCWD). The Lahore process has been verbally approved for a renewed three year grant by European Commission (EU) till 2013-14.
b) The Murree process
In 2009, European Commission (EU) through one of its grant making organization in Pakistan funded a pilot intervention in a summer mountain resort town of Murree. In this intervention VISION was suppose to map the town of Murree both geographically and socially and the context in which the mapping was suppose to be done mainly focused on children and their environment. Along with this mapping VISION was also suppose to reach out to some of these children and understand the reasons for their presence in different parts of Murree during and beyond summers. As an outcome VISION discoved that children were being trafficked to the town of Murree in summers and beyond, and with trafficking children were put in to commercial sexual exploitation and/or abused otherwise as well. A child irrespective of their age and capacity were forced in to vending and forms of labor that not only expose them to health hazards but also created a very unsafe situation for them. Report of this intervention is attached with this progress report.
As a consequence of this pilot intervention VISION has been offered by EU to initiate a three year process in Murree, most probably starting from January, 2012.
c) Abbottabad process with Children
The Abbottabad process for children that has now taken a shape of a functional resource centre on the right of the child is progressing as one of the very few child rights resource centre in the country that is providing trainings, conducting researches, and developing behavioral change communication tools (BCCT) that are rooted in the indigenous realities of the country and the region. Currently, The Abbottabad Resource Centre is the first ever training platform of Pakistan that provided training to a group of women that have formed an organization with an objective to reach out to girl child on street and/or in domestic labor.
This work may be one of the pioneering efforts to ever emerge from Pakistan and especially in a province that generally gets stereotyped as a conservative province i.e. Khyber Pukhtoon Khwa (KPK).
Furthermore, one of the storylines that has been published by VISION for creating awareness on bodily changes in male child has been appreciated by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and through a partner organization VISION has been told that United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) desires to convert the storyline in to a puppet theater, that can be shown on the streets to cater to larger audience of children who may not be able to read the storyline itself.
The final storyline in this series of three books on sensitizing children to protect themselves against sexual abuse and exploitation on streets is close to completion and will soon be published a proper pre-testing exercise. The earlier two books and a puzzle on defining self image has been introduced in to all boys boarding school and the feedback regarding its initiation is very positive from the teaching staff at this school.
In addition to this, The Resource Centre has conducted a Knowledge Attitude Survey (KAP) in the town of Murree and Peshawar. This survey was funded through a small grant program of International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) based in Washington DC. This survey is focused on understanding the knowledge attitude practice on trafficking (inter-provincial) of children and along with the general perception on child labor at these two places (Peshawar and Murree). The survey also conducted a desk research of the lacunas in legislation on child labor and highlighted the gaps between the existing laws and their implementation.
VISION has been given an understanding that International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) may want to continue working with VISION to launch a comprehensive child rights campaign in the year 2011/2012. The Knowledge Attitude Survey (KAP) survey report is attached with this progress report.
d) The component of service delivery for children in Abbottabad
The service delivery especially reaching out to children has become a little challenging due to an ongoing conflict situations and hyper sensitivity of intelligence agencies in Abbottabad, as Abbottabad is predominantly a garrison town.
2. VISION’s work with Religious Minorities in Pakistan
This initiative has progressed in to a comprehensive plan of action in which VISION is partnering with four different groups in three different provinces in Pakistan and they are Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan. In Sindh, VISION is closely associated with a Hindu group that registered as “UMID” and is working for the larger benefit of humanity but mostly focusing on issues that are plaguing the Hindu Dalit minority within the larger Hindu population residing in Pakistan. In efforts to assist, facilitate and enhance the capacity of this group VISION has introduced and in once case procured regular yearly funding for their work for the betterment of the community. VISION has also encouraged them to be part of different initiatives that are launched by VISION from time to time such as the initiative on defending human rights activists in Pakistan. VISION supports them in their existing and ongoing causes.
The Christian and Hazara group in Quetta Baluchistan are also closely associated with VISION. The Christian group, Al-Falah without Walls (AWW) based in Quetta is also part of the initiative on defending the human rights activists in Pakistan. In addition to this, VISION has extended an open offer to enhance the capacity building component of Al-Falah without Wall’s Christian youth. VISION has shared the tools it has developed at its Abbottabad Resource Centre with Al-Falah without Walls (AWW) and has encouraged them to use the tools with the children that they may be working with.
VISION is also in partnership with a Hazara Women Rights based organization situated in Quetta. This group becomes vulnerable on two accounts; firstly, it’s a women lead organization who is a very vocal activist and is generally propagating and promoting the group’s cause in open forums and secondly, Hazara population is a highly targeted population due to its marginal status and its Shia’s believes compounds their safety and security situation in the country.
In Southern Punjab VISION is in partnership with a young group that calls itself Neengar. Apart from its other causes, Neengar promotes and protects the rights of Hindu Balmick populations living in the city of Multan. They provide legal and moral assistance to this population. Neengar also closely works with Christian groups in close by villages of Multan. VISION through AJWS’s flood relief funds provided technical and financial assistance to some of the Christian communities outside the city of Multan. This assistance was provided in collaboration with Neengar and helped the flood affectes during not only get funds to restart some of their agricultural work but also provided them skills in inter community counseling