|Philanthropists urged to sustain foreign donor driven schemes for kids|
| Sunday, June 29, 2008
Karachi: Specific priorities and policies of foreign donor agencies has jeopardised sustainability of no less than five different Drop in Centres (DICs) for street children, scattered in less privileged areas of Karachi.
This was highlighted at a session organised by Pakistan Voluntary Health and Nutrition Association (PAVHNA), a consortium of small community-based organisations (CBOs), actively engaged in rehabilitation of child labourers and street children.
Participants of the event comprising activists, representatives of donors and street children themselves were unanimous that local philanthropists, corporate sector and group of citizens sensitized enough about the plight of the vulnerable children, need to move in and support the critically needed facility.
They registered with deep concern that Karachi with no less than 17,000 street children is yet to have any government support system to protect them against their susceptibility to all kinds of violence and all sorts of abuse.
Activists said these kids were highly vulnerable to all forms of abuse, including sexual exploitation and addiction, therefore at high risk to contract HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C coupled with several other serious infections.
The scenario enhances urgency to see that efforts made to inculcate safe living skill through DICs are sustained on long-term basis.
Rehana Rashidi, Programme Director of PAVHNA, expressed her gratitude to Global Fund for Elimination of AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria (GFATM) and National AIDS Control Programme for their four year support for the project.
“At current point of time it is extremely difficult to communicate to the children that centres have to be closed in next three months time,” she said.
The project named as “Kirnay” that carved a niche for itself provided marginalised children, be they the scavengers, help at auto-workshops, street urchin, waiters at road side shops and hotels, apprentice at crafts centres etc, an opportunity to resume education, be conscious of their vulnerability and skills to protect against abuse, relevance of health and hygiene and healthy recreational opportunities.
“A positive change has been noticed in many of them showing improvement in decision-making such as change in profession, quitting drugs, developing healthy relations with family and friends and taking care of their health,” said Rehana Rashidi referring to frequent auditing of the project, initiated by third parties.
KIRNAY Project Manager, Anjum Shaikh, said an increased assertiveness regarding their rights by refusing abusers and demanding respect from others was quite visible and reflected revival of self-respect and self-esteem among the kids visiting DICs.
Anjum said the goal of KIRNAY project was and continues to be prevention of HIV from becoming concentrated epidemic in vulnerable population and spreading to general adult population.
These drop in centres were said to be functional in North Karachi, New Karachi, Landhi, Korangi and Malir.
Anjum Shaikh appealed to all the people to come forward and adopt these centres. She said the minimum cost of running each of these centres was estimated to be approximately Rs.150,000.
“Each of these centres cater around 3,000 children bringing the annual cost of saving a young life to a mere Rs 600,” she said.
The Project Manager said the number of indirect beneficiaries of these centres were atleast triple the actual beneficiaries.
Dr Huma Qureishi, GFATM’s Senior Programme Officer, to Pakistan urged the local philanthropists to help the kids in need of heir support.
She said that similar projects, owing to its success in Karachi, was planned to be replicated in Lahore and then at Multan with the support of Punjab AIDS Control Programme.
Chairman, Panjwani Trust and former provincial Minister for Women Development, Nadira Panjwani said committed NGOs as PAVHNA, working at grass root levels needed to be supported on strong grounds.
“Children be they the street kids or abandoned souls or those pushed before harsh realities of life due to poverty are our collective responsibility,” she said.
On the occasion children visiting different DICs managed by PAVHNA, little conscious about the fate of these facilities, narrated their personal experience and also attempted to entertain the guests through skits, qawwalis and tableau.
Handicrafts made by these kids were also on sale at the venue. A documentary film about the project was also screened on the occasion.