Training of Youth on Leadership, Blogging and Podcasting

SPARC entered into an agreement with Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) to conduct capacity building trainings across Pakistan. In this regard, SPARC conducted training on leadership, blogging and podcasting with 25 students from the Women Studies Department of Karachi University and selected youth group from secondary schools between 25- 27 October, 2016. This training was the first amongst a series of trainings under the project ‘Strengthening Children & Youth Digitally’.  SPARC’s digital training consultant, Omer Imran conducted sessions on enhancing the role of leadership in Youth Right Clubs throughthe use of digital technology, effective networking, the distribution of roles and responsibilities andthe use of social media. Furthermore, he conducted sessions on blogging & podcasting which were of immense help to students. They were taught the basics of constructing a blog and ways to enhance the blog via RSS feeds or through the use of Twitter and Facebook.

Commonwealth of Learning Visit to SPARC

Ms. Frances Ferreira, Senior Advisor Girls Inspire Project from Commonwealth of Learning (COL) Canada visited SPARC from 24th to 29th October, 2016 to review the progress of two COL projects undertaken by the organization. The projects focus on empowering marginalized girls/women via sustainable livelihood trainings in different target communities across the country.She visited SPARC’s vocational centers in Peshawar and Haripur to meet with girls and community members of the target locality. Ms. Ferreiraalso met with the project staff to discussprogress of the initiatives and enhance the programs strategy to reach out to more girls and women. Moreover, she also conducted a workshop on ‘Open Distance Learning and Open Educational Resources’ for SPARC’s project staff. In this regard, SPARC also arranged an exhibition showcasing the work of marginalized girls/women at its head office located in Islamabad.

Fundraising Event by ABP & AW for SPARC’s Center for Street Children

The Association of Business, Professional & Agricultural Women arranged a fund raising event for SPARC’s Centers for Street Children (CSC) at Rawalpindi Gymkhana on 15th October, 2016. ABP&AW members donated Rs. 45,000 for food, hygiene and educational material for street children and vowed to conduct more fund-raising events in the future.

Visit of Karachi University’s students to different landmarks

SPARC under its project with Karachi Youth Initiative (KYI)/DAI organized a cultural trip for the students in the Criminology Department of Karachi University. The students visited Central Jail Karachi, Temple Swami Narain, a church and Memon mosque.  As many as 70 students, along with Ms. Shumaila Muzammil, the Project Manager and Mr. Usama Zaheer, the Project Coordinator from SPARC and Dr. Mumtaz and Dr. Ghulam Muhammad Burfat from Karachi University took part in the visits.

Radio show titled ‘ MeraBachpan’ launched in collaboration with FM 99

SPARC in collaboration with FM 99 (Islamabad) launched a new live radio show titled ‘MeraBachpan’ which will focus on issues related to child rights and child protection in the country. The program involves interactive discussions with participants along with live calls from listeners and will be broadcasted live every Tuesday from 3-4 PM. So far, two episodes of the program have been aired; the first being an introduction of SPARC’s initiative while the second focused on the prevalence of early child marriages in Pakistan.

Nutrition situation in Pakistan for children under two is dire: UNICEF

Five in six children in Pakistan, under the age of two years are not fed enough nutritious food for their age, depriving them of the energy and nutrients they need at the most critical time in their physical and cognitive development, according to a new UNICEF report.

“Infants and young children have the greatest nutrient needs than at any other time in life. But the bodies and brains of millions of young children do not reach their full potential because they are receiving too little food, too late,” said France Begin, Senior Nutrition Adviser at UNICEF.

Nearly 5 out of 10 children in households face moderate or severe food insecurity. Moreover, 30 out of every 100 children globally eat four or more food groups a day; while only 3 in 100 of children in Pakistan have that luxury.

Virtually no children get the right vitamins and minerals in their diets. An average household in Pakistan spends more on tea, sugar, confectionaries than vegetables, fruit, nuts, and meat.

Data from UNICEF’s report showsthat poor nutritional practices including the delayed introduction of solid foods, infrequent meals and lack of food variety  are widespread and depriving children of essential nutrients when their growing brains, bones and bodies need them the most.

20m children in Pakistan have mental disorders

An awareness session on mental health was organized by Aga Khan University (AKU) in coordination with the KPC Health Committee at the Karachi Press Club.Dr Ayesha Main, who is the resident child psychiatrist in AKU, stated that approximately 50 million of Pakistan’s population was suffering from different types of psychological or behavioral disorders of which 20 million were children and 30 million were adults. She said family members, friends and society in general have a vital role in helping people recover from mental illness via a positive attitude and acceptance of the disorder. Moreover, studies show that people with mental illnesses are much more likely to be victims rather than perpetrators and that such an illness adversely affects one’s cognitive abilities and actions.

She also stated that unfortunately, there are only 300 to 400 trained psychiatrists in the country meaning that there is roughly one psychiatrist available per half a million people and went on to explain factors that may lead to depression, anxiety, eating disorders ,use of alcohol or recreational drugs and so on.She said depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are some common mental illnesses prevail in the society.

300 Million Children Are Breathing 'Extremely Toxic' Air, UNICEF Says

Some 300 million children around the world are breathing highly toxic air, according to a new report from UNICEF.The report, which uses satellite imagery to determine the impacted areas, says these affected children live in places where outdoor air pollution exceeds international guidelines by at least six times. Altogether, it states, some 2 billion children are breathing air that has been deemed a long term hazard; exceeding minimum standards set by the World Health Organization.

Air pollution is a major contributing factor in the deaths of around 600,000 children under five every year and threatens the lives and futures of millions more every day stated UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. He also said that pollutants do not only harm children's developing lungs but also cross the blood-brain barrier and permanently damage their developing brains.

Both outdoor air pollution (such as pollution from a factory) and indoor air pollution (such as smoke from solid fuels used in cooking) are causing damage to children's health as per the report. Outdoor air pollution is worse in lower-income urban communities while indoor air pollution is more prolific in lower-income, rural areas. At the same time, the report states that it can be difficult to gauge the impact of each, because individuals are constantly moving between the two environments.

South Asia has the largest number of children living in these areas, at 620 million, with Africa following at 520 million children according to the report. The East Asia and Pacific region has 450 million children living in areas that exceed guideline limits.

More than 1,000 children left in Calais camp, say charities

Charities in Calais have said that more than 1,000 children remain in shipping containers in thedemolished camp, with inadequate food and water supplies and no information provided about their future.

Mr. Alf Dubs, the Labour peer who introduced legislation committing the UK to taking some of the more vulnerable child refugees, said the government’s handling of the situation was morally unacceptable.

Volunteers said the uncertainty was very distressing for the young people, who had been given temporary accommodation in the fenced-off area of the site. 

Ms. Josie Naughton, who is the co-founder of the organization HelpRefugees stated that the children have no idea what is happening to them and volunteers equally do not know what to say and themselves are not allowed into the containers. Very few adults seem to be inside the container camp and are responsiblefor this vast number of minors who are incredibly stressed and confused by the situation. She also stated thatthere were about 30 unaccompanied female teenagers, mostly under 15, the youngest of who is understood to be 12.

Charities such as Citizens UK, Save the Children and Help Refugees, report that as many as 50 unaccompanied children who had been unable to register their claims with camp authorities in the rush of the demolition, being driven off into the cold night by authorities.