GRACE endeavors to empower and improve the quality of life of the marginalized and vulnerable communities of least developed parts of the country on sustainable basis through participatory research, development and knowledge management, advocacy by launching sustainable and replicable projects and building partnerships.
We may be able to refer disabled persons to wheelchair accessible housing or transportation or other services in our city.
People planning to come to our city are welcome to contact us to find out about accessibility and services in Skardu Baltistan. We may be able to help with information.
We have traineeships or volunteer positions that people with disabilities are welcome to apply for.
In a sense Grace Association was brought in to existence as ‘Waliul Asr Students Organization’ – WASO, in 1992 by a team of intrinsically motivated seven school students being the only school going children out of 120 families of Village Muntazarabad District Skardu in the lap of K-2 -the 2nd highest peak of the world - Northern Areas Pakistan.
This is the story of February 1992, when there was no sense of unity, collective efforts and self help development. The community of Muntazarabad village was totally in bottomless poverty, illiterate and ignorant. Children rights of access to literacy and education were neither considerable nor important priorities. The first and foremost priority for families was only livelihood through farming, live stock and laboring on traditional ways. Child labor was also a tradition. There was no concept of educating female children. However a few parents were sending their sons to school or for basic religious education in Madrasas.
The team of seven students was so grief on their least number in the school while students from some other villages were in large number. So, it was a milestone incident in the history of the village when these children arranged a meeting on their own level to converse and stood up to secure the children’s rights of access to literacy and education. Unanimously they developed an action plan to launch a motivation campaign, going door to door to convince parents educating them about importance of education for their children. Since then, they went door to door of each family and conveyed the message. Initially the result of their campaign was not so hopeful but determined and continuous efforts worked with the passage of time and the number of school going children of the Village reached up to 40 in one year. This progress established grounds for motivation of some other parents. Thus a trend was developed towards sending boys to school.
In February 1993, the senior students gathered all school going children and decided to establish ‘Waliul Asr Students Organization’ (WASO) to strengthen the light of education deep in the young generation. To achieve this goal they set the following objectives;
• Enkindle the light of knowledge in to each family through awareness raising and motivation campaigns with in the community.
• Establish a book bank and a library.
• Arrange schooling for females.
• Arrange collective study program in the second time so that students could pay more attentions towards their studies learning from each other.
o Just after, WASO establish ‘Al-Zehra Girls School Kwardu’ in an old house of a community member – It was the first step taken by any team towards basic education of not only in the history of Muntazarabad but also in the whole valley of Kwardu. WASO members requested a literate member of the community to contribute his services as teacher which he accepted. WASO members arranged a nominal honorarium of PKR 500/ pm for him. But it is worth mentionable here that there were only two girls – the sisters of two senior members, ready to get admission. All other families were persistent to the old tradition and culture of gender biases, gender discrimination and sensitivity.
o WASO members again launched a motivation campaign but this time they faced resistant from old generation. But the activist again continued their mission.
o WASO also established a book bank and collected text books from students as they promoted to higher classes and they further distributed the same books to needy students.
o As the fourth activity, they arranged tuition to upper and lower classes and tried to develop the disciplinary thoughts among them, so that they could follow the principles of discipline in their lives.
All these activities did not please the village elders because they thought it was a diversion from their traditions, but the development workers were persistent to their mission. So they tried their level best to motivate the elders by arranging meetings, inviting them in functions and raising their awareness about importance of knowledge and holistic development of the families.
In three years the youngsters were succeeded to convince the old generation for change. Thus in 1995, the students’ organization was converted into a welfare organization – “WAFA” and all 120 families including the elders welcomed this initiative and began to participate in all activities of the organization.
WAFA made tremendous progress for the village developing an environment to participate the whole community members in the development process by bridging the gaps between the Community and Government line departments, development organizations and development programs. The student community development workers again played proactive and vital roles in this development process.
WAFA achieved many of its objectives in providing the following basic facilities to the Community.
• Basic education
• Basic health
• Clean drinking water and Sanitation
• Irrigation Water
• Rural Roads,
• Ban on making beyond capacity expenditure on ceremonies
• Awareness Raising Sessions, Conferences and Training Workshops
• Primary school
• Women Empowerment by creating friendly environment to participate in the development process
• Suspension bridge – through rights based advocacy
• English Medium Education in a Co-Education School subsidizing girls by the fee of boy students
• Community Development Centre
WAFA took a period of 10 years to address all these problems. The most important achievement is counting now the attitudinal change in the community by development practitioners who come for research purposes. It is also worth mentionable here that a Danish Lady Anthropologist was chose Muntazarabad Community and WAFA to find out the myth of indigenous leadership successes and she has written a lot in her thesis, which can be downloaded from the net.
Female education and promotion of disciplinary thoughts, unity and preparedness for any community development project was the second top achievement.
Now the pioneered Community Development Volunteers living in different cities of Pakistan for education and employment purposes again active broadening their scope of work and pursuing the dream of achieving their goals of grassroots level community development moving towards the vision of a sustainable, prosperous and peaceful society.
GRACE Association, Pakistan (The Grassroots Association for Community Empowerment) is a quintessential of organizational growth and development in the civil society sector, originating from a remotest village of a fragile environment with least exposure and opportunities to even sustain let alone grow to this size. Grace Association is the transformed shape of WAFA Volunteers. It bears the ambition of replicating its organizational development and escalation experiences to other areas by strengthening the capacity of civil society organizations particularly in least developed parts of the country truly demonstrating the message and conviction that there is nothing impossible if there is hard work, unity and faith. It has a commitment for grassroots community empowerment at broader level. The governance and the management of the organization have an aspiration to see it as an apex organization for the promotion of human rights and for a prosperous society.
The idea behind all these change processes was pioneered by Mr. Khadim Hussain – a person with disability (Polio) and his Dedicated Volunteers Team with replicable management systems.
Now Grace Association is the plateform for person with disabilities to access and influence policy makers, development center working for disabled peoples to give them freedom of choice, self-determination, self-respect and dignity. Our ultimate goal is to promote disabled people’s personal and political power and share information, training materials and develop solutions for services for persons with extensive disabilities in Baltistan Northern Areas Pakistan.
Our non governmental, non-profit, organization works at the national level.
We consider ourselves as part of the international Independent Living and Disability Rights Movement.
Our organization is mainly run, controlled and represented by disabled people.
We are interested in constructive partnerships, create shared visions, develop synergies, collegialities, demonstrate best practices, provide access, avail opportunities for professional growth, we maintain accountability and transparency at any cost and we accept and respect National as well as Global Obligations on moral and socio-economical grounds.
|Contact person:||Khadim Hussain|
|Address:||Grace Association Program Office,|
This entry added: Friday 20th July 2007. (record #974) Changed: Monday 22nd February 2010.