Background on the country:
Recent natural disasters from earthquakes to severe flooding have left a huge burden on the countries economy, where 24% of the population live below the poverty line. Children in Pakistan face a variety of serious challenges ranging from poor access to education and health facilities, exploitation in the form of child labour to malnutrition. In addition, many children have also suffered from displacement due to the recent natural disasters.
Issues effecting children in Pakistan:
• Street children: About 1.2 million children are on the streets in Pakistan’s large cities, working as beggars, vendors or shoeshine boys (*AHRC). These children often fall into prostitution and drug abuse. Some are forced into crime and are extremely vulnerable to abuse and violence.
• Malnutrition: It is reported that 23% of children under 5 are underweight for their age due to malnutrition (UNICEF). These children have little or no access to adequate healthcare and the lack of nutritional food available to them leaves them vulnerable to many other diseases.
• Child labour: It is estimated that 6 million children are involved in child labor in Pakistan (UNICEF). These children are forced to work in horrendous conditions which has a huge impact on their quality of life. They are also prone to being exploited in and often work long hours with little or no pay.
• Poor access to education: Only 50% of the population is literate and there is a significant gender difference in education. Girls are less likely to be sent to school and it is estimated that only 48% of girls have access to education compared to 58% of boys (UNESCO).
• Displacement: In July 2010 Pakistan was hit by the worst floods in its history. A staggering 20 million people were affected, around 1,600 people died and millions of people were left homeless without basic sanitation, food and shelter. This left many children displaced, not able to attend schools or have access to health care. The loss of parents and carers meant many children were left alone in the world.
Muslim Aid’s work in Pakistan so far: The last few years have been particularly turbulent for the people in Pakistan. With the most disastrous floods in the history of the country in July 2010, Muslim Aid has started emergency rehabilitation with its model village projects. The project is aimed at providing holistic support by constructing houses, schools, health centres and mosques in the affected provinces. Already two model villages have been completed in the regions of Mianwali and Charsadda.
£3.8 million was raised through an emergency appeal and in addition to this Muslim Aid’s ongoing Street-to-Schools project continued this year. A Money Box campaign was implemented to encourage children in the UK to raise money for the education of street children in Pakistan. This has been a hugely successful project which has seen countless children across the country get involved in the simple act of putting £1 a day in a money box during the Ramadan period. Street children forced into labour were provided with primary education to empower them for the future and make them self-reliant and responsible citizens. The Pakistan project aims at giving children an opportunity to get the best start in life through access to a primary education.
Some of the activities that are provided by our Rainbow family programme include: coaching classes, recreational visits, personality development sessions, health screening for children, art and design activities and physical activities. Children are encouraged to engage in these activities for their own physical and mental wellbeing and they have great fun in participating as it enables them to do things that they normally would not be able to do.
Rainbow family sponsorship in Pakistan:
Muslim Aid’s Rainbow family programme currently sponsors over 600 children in Pakistan and in the future we hope to support many more children in need with the generous donations of our donors. Please read the example below of what your funds can do. Young Hamza is one of many examples of children whose lives have considerably improved through the Rainbow Family programme.
After the death of her husband a year ago, Hamza Rehmatullah’s mother, could not afford to support her son and two daughters, the eldest of whom suffers from tuberculosis. As a result Hamza was unable to attend school and the quality of life for the whole family was very low.
Thankfully in April 2010 Muslim Aid were able to provide financial support for Hamza through a sponsorship. He now attends school and is currently learning the Holy Quran by heart. The programme has enlightened the entire family, providing not only an education, but also healthcare, clothing and nourishing food. Hamza’s mother said ‘the programme is like an angel for my family, and Allah sent it for my help’. The impact has been great, and Hamza has a future where he can better himself and help support his family.