This post a co-written press release on a video conference presentation I gave to uni students in Peshawar, where I wish I could have visited in person but I couldn’t get the extra permissions needed for security clearance to visit in time… but did the next best thing – video conference presentation! Cheers Peshawar, see you next time!
Monday 19 Nov 2012 marked the day where the Pak-US Alumni Network, Young Alumni Council (PUAN – YAC) under the presidency of Mr. Ahmad Qazi lifted its fight against the curse of polio that has hit majority of Pakistan and in particular FATA.
In this fight, it arranged a presentation and workshop in coordination with IM Sciences and the Global Poverty Project. The session was conducted by Mr. d’Arcy Lunn from Global Poverty Project, currently visiting Pakistan. Digital video conferencing was used with d’Arcy in the UNICEF office in Islamabad, and video interaction with the students of IM Sciences and Young Alumni of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa in Peshawar. The students of FATA also made part of the participants who asked many questions and shared with d’Arcy some basic problems their communities face in combating this curse of polio.
Mr d’Arcy shared various statistics, very rarely people know about polio, and some initiatives that can be taken on behalf of locals of Pakistan. He believed that aid is good in various instances but beyond that in terms of education, health and other basic services local ownership is required by the people and government for effectively combating such problems. When aid works well it is a hand-up not a hand-out. On an individual level the curse of polio and various other issues can be fought in a number of ways such as volunteering, donating, ethical purchases supporting local community, as well as awareness. For example advocating for the end of polio from Pakistan who is among one for three countries still hit by the curse of this menacing disease.
In discussion with d’Arcy during the workshop he also mentioned that there are various arguments that are in minority and are becoming less of a hurdle including the misconceptions of polio drops being a source of male infertility and that the vaccine ingredients are forbidden in the religion of Islam. He also pointed out that the fight against polio, especially in the lands of FATA, involves Islamic scholars some who have been devoting themselves to ask residents of those areas to support polio vaccines.
Finally, he asked participants to initiate steps in their own communities and support organizations that already exist to aware people more about this problem and create awareness and advocacy about the need to eradicate polio. He quoted India as the living example where local communities were able take their country from the most polio affected country, to eradication within two years through their sheer hard work and devotion. The President for PUAN-YAC, Mr. Ahmad Qazi, promised that under the young alumni body they stay devoted and would welcome any ideas coming from local youth regarding this fight against polio and would feel honored to work in collaboration. He also insisted the participants to develop such projects and use the skills earned from the presentation and workshop for productive practical outcomes.