Last week I was in Pakistan – I don’t know much about Pakistan and most of what I do know is from either a Bangladesh or Afghanistan perspective (lots of history there!) – so I am eager to learn more.
I never travelled to Karachi (except a stop over at the airport) and Sindh – we did a lot of travelling - the back seat of the car has a Sarah shape dent in it! – and visited Hyderabad, Sanghar, Dadu, Mehar – and saw the changing landscape – fields to desert and back again
Villages are dealing with the recovery still of the 2010 floods and in some places the 2011 floods as well as the challenges of every day life! The communities and partners we visited felt we had responded in a timely way to the 2011 floods, and I saw villages which had been under one metre of water with good quality temporary latrines and washrooms – for men and women of course. The village was surrounded by fields of dead cotton plants – this year’s crop was destroyed
And the water still remained in the fields. What amazed me was the huge resilience of communities – people who, again and again, pick themselves up and start all over again and who still have dreams and ambitions – like the group of women producers who started a shop, or the group of girls who wanted to become doctors, teachers or police women and were excited about their new school building because they had latrines for the girl students or the wheat producers who cut out the middle men to take their own wheat to market
Every time we asked people thanked us for the help of Oxfam and our partners but said they wanted to contribute, use their skills and experience to take control of their own lives. That is truly sustainable development!
The We Can – end all violence against women – campaign is another good example of how to make transformational change - I was lucky enough to attend the young leaders conference in Karachi and was able to hear how engagement on this issue was changing their lives and those of their families and teachers – Oxfam has a history of supporting people to know their rights but more and more I am seeing Oxfam and partners supporting people to find their voice!