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LEARN ABOUT AZAD FOUNDATION

WHY IS AF

It is a known fact that poverty is one of the most important factor which brings children on streets.Street Children are a common phenominon in the world. Developing countries where poverty is on verge, no infrastructure, health care and social services are out of sight, growing number of street children is inevitable in pursuit of basic needs. Pakistan shares same fate, a state where more than half of population lives at poverty/below poverty line. Children at a very young age when burdened with economic responsibilities try to find out ways and means to over come such pressures may be through avoidance as running way from such situation or finding out ways to generate most as soon as possible. Both of these behaviors result in their exploitation by becoming a victim in hands of those who are more powerful. Further consequences provoke a vicious circle of abuse in motion where the child has to face the worst and he is labeled a street child. Landing on the street seems to be a pleasant experience at first, a sense of freedom, curiosity fueled by passion to crush the ghost past under feet, sadly when reality emerges into realization life unfolds its horrible wings. Might is right seems to exert its effects and survival becomes the crucial concern for a street child. Struggling for survival a child faces a vareity of challanges and expsosed to every possible danger. To escape from bitter circumstances a child finds shelter in drugs which is always considered as a common practive and consequently fall into the leap of miserable death. That's how a child ends up his life leaving this world with broken dreams and questions of his identity. Azad Foundation exists to help street children in Pakistan in grave circumstances. Our interventions aim to provide protection and rehabilitation to street children in Pakistan who are in conditions of need, hardship or distress and in particular to those living on the streets. For these street children, the streets are often the only means of support available but also where they suffer abuse and exploitation. Since our inception Azad Foundation has helped thousands of street children in Karachi, living alone and at risk on the streets.

We believe an immediate intervention can protect a child from harm on streets and an instant approach to a child before any abuser can prevent exploitation.


HISTORY OF AF

Primarily Azad was a group of students, teachers and alumni of Karachi University known as Azad Group. The group discussions centered on social problems, education and class disparity. The group also formed a theatre to highlight these issues. Class divisions and poverty were the most talked about issues as these created dissentions among different strata of society that stemmed out from the very core, i.e., education. The sector most affected were the children confused as why they were discriminated against due to their social, economic or ethnic backgrounds.

Thus in 1998, the executive body of Azad decided to get their group registered and converted it into a foundation. Foundation initially chose to work for child development but during the course of their investigations found out that there were thousands of children stranded in the streets who ran away due to poverty and lack of resources. These children were in dire straits due to the misfortune befallen on them and had no hope to survive their teens. This phenomenon prompted Azad Foundation to specifically address the problem of street children in Pakistan.

Azad initiated its work in 2001 accordingly. In June 2001 a base line survey study titled Street Children in Karachi was conducted in order to address the problems and to motivate Govt. and service providers for the protection and rehabilitation of street children. During the course of 2001 - 2002 Azad ran a managed campaign of advocacy and awareness which comprised of exhibition, Base Line study in Lahore , documentary, walk etc. To incorporate the issue into National Plan of Action, Azad lobbied in 2003 which further in 2005 became a part of National Plan. With the collaboration of UNODCP and ANF a study was conducted in four major cities of Pakistan in 2004. Study aimed to assess the trend of Volatile Substance Abuse among street children. Targeted cities were Karachi , Lahore , Peshawar and Quetta . The year 2004 marked a significant success when Azad, with the support of local corporate sector, established its first Drop in Center for the protection and rehabilitation of street children. The center was initiated in Saddar Town , Karachi providing a variety of services under same roof to rehabilitate and reintegrate street children. A consultation with UNICEF, Social Welfare Sindh and Govt. Stakeholder was held in February 2005. Consultation aimed to utilize available resources of different department of Sindh Govt. for the protection and rehabilitation of street children. It also targeted to establish a management system among departments and policy making. Throughout the process Azad Foundation and UNICEF ensured to provide technical and professional skills whereas UNICEF promised to provide technical and financial assistance. Policy revolved around establishing 10 Drop-in centers in Sindh and Azad was assigned the responsibility for the development of Standard Operating Procedures, training and implementation. Later Azad established two Drop-in Centers in Saddar and Jamshaid Town , Karachi respectively and are still in operations. Azad Foundation also operated a Drop-in Center at Khayaban-e-Sirsyed in Rawalpindi in 2005 with the collaboration of World Vision. A Rehabilitation Center Dehleez was initiated in 2006 with the collaboration of Group Development France, European Union and City District Govt. Karachi. Center offers a variety of services, skill development program, Job placement and reunification with family. To remove drugs effects a Drug Detoxification program was initiated with UNODC. Project aimed to rehabilitate children and provision of earning resources.

Throughout its conceptualization Azad played a role of Policy Maker to improve Govt. policies, to influence public opinion in favor of implementing existing laws as Sindh Child Act, Juvenile Justice Ordinance and to organize civil society in assigning its role in policy making. During the course of ten years Azad conducted a number of symposium, seminars, workshops and have a variety of international level publication on its credit which helped pave a way for the intervention of rehabilitation of street children at international level. Azad also shared its experiences with international organizations and utilized the learned experiences. With out a doubt, Azad Foundation is a leading organization in Pakistan for street children and also providing resource material with technical assistance to other organizations.

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