زمرہ: AKDN

Energy Globe Award for Aga Khan Planning and Building Services

(PR – AKDN) The Aga Khan Planning and Building Service’s (AKPBS,P) Water and Sanitation Extension Programme (WASEP) in Pakistan was awarded the Energy Globe Award. The award recognises projects that “make careful and economical use of resources and employ alternative energy sources”. 

The award, which was received in Kigali, Rwanda, during a ceremony organized on the UN World Environment Day, recognized AKPBS’s efforts to improve living conditions in more than 200 villages in Pakistan. WASEP was also short-listed as one of the top three projects in the Water Category Award. Other projects which received this award were from India and Germany. 

On receiving the award, AKPBS,P’s Chairman, Hafiz Sherali said “the contribution of WASEP in improving the living conditions of the people in Pakistan has been a source of great satisfaction for AKPBS,P”. Sherali went on to note that more was needed to be done in this area. 

Energy Globe founder and organizer, Wolfgang Neumann, congratulated the teams for their achievements and contribution towards the environment and safe water. Also present at the award ceremony was Maneka Gandhi, Chairperson of the Energy Globe Jury and Former Indian Minister of the Environment.

WASEP is a rural-based initiative that integrates supply of safe water, construction of low-cost sanitation facilities and health and hygiene education in many marginalized parts of Gilgit-Baltistan. The integration of these components has led to significant improvement in health indicators in beneficiary villages. In regions where more than half of all deaths are caused by waterborne diseases, WASEP has been able to reduce, by more than 60 percent, the incidence of diarrhoea, which is the number one killer of children in the developing world.

WASEP schemes, running since 1997, are all managed by the communities that benefit from them. Moreover, almost all of WASEP’s water supply facilities are gravity-fed, requiring no electrical energy. It is specifically for these reasons that the Programme — out of more than 800 entries from 111 countries — was presented the Energy Globe Award for Pakistan and was nominated for the Water Category Award.

Assessments by the World Health Organisation have shown that WASEP’s integrated approach has had a significant impact in reducing diarrheal incidence in project villages. Studies have also shown that WASEP’s focus on community and school based hygiene education has greatly improved practices of water use, sanitation and personal hygiene.

Last year, AKPBS,P received the National Energy Globe Award for its initiatives to improve housing and domestic energy issues in rural settlements of Pakistan. AKPBS,P has also received the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air Global Leadership Award in 2009; the Dubai International Award for Best Practices in 2008; the Alcan Prize for Sustainability in 2005 and the World Habitat Award in 2006.

AKPBS,P, an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), works with hundreds of marginalised communities of the country. From the mountain communities in the North to the coastal settlements in Sindh, AKPBS,P has implemented a number of social and infrastructural development programmes with the help of local village organisations as well as the support of leading aid agencies such as the Global Environment Facility, the Japan Social Development Fund, UNDP and other organisations. 

The First MicroBank Mozambique is Inaugurated as a Rural Microfinance Bank

AKDN.ORG – Pemba, Mozambique, 8 May 2010 – The First MicroBank Mozambique (FMB-M) was inaugurated today, in a ceremony attended by President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique and Governor Eliseu Machava of Cabo Delgado.
Other officials included Mr. Nazim Ahmad, Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Mozambique, Mr. Jacques Toureille, the General Manager of the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM), as well as members of the local and provincial government, officials from the Central Bank, members of the diplomatic corps in Mozambique, and senior staff from the AKDN and its agencies.

In his remarks, President Guebuza stated that “from a macro-economic point of view, the opening of the microfinance bank also responds to our policy of encouraging the extension of services of these institutions outside of the capital city Maputo and congratulated the decision of The First MicroBank SA owners to settle in Pemba. He added that "with the presence of this Bank, the people win, the economy wins and Mozambique wins.”

FMB-M was launched in 2004 as a microfinance programme which evolved into a rural micro bank earlier this year. The bank is part of the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance, (AKAM) which is an international financial institution with the objective of achieving the double-bottom line of maximising social impact while generating growth, expansion, and sustainability. By late 2009, FMB-M had disbursed over 2,000 outstanding loans, amounting to approximately USD 1 million.

Nazim Ahmad explained that the microfinance programme has evolved over the past eight years, culminating in the creation of The First MicroBank. “The microfinance component complements the activities of the Aga Khan Foundation in the province of Cabo Delgado,” he said, noting “the results achieved by our Rural Development Programme are reflected in food security indicators, levels of nutrition, access to education and income generation.”

The microfinance activities in the province of Cabo Delgado are a part of an integrated approach taken by AKDN and its agencies to reach out to remote populations and alleviate poverty. The inauguration of the bank and the procurement of the rural banking license, which permits it to accept public deposits, will enable FMB-M to assist in the impoverished areas of Mozambique’s northern provinces which have the highest poverty rates in Mozambique and lack access to financial services. FMB-M will offer its clients agricultural, entrepreneurial and salary-based loans in urban, peri-urban and rural areas.

For over a decade, Mozambique has championed microfinance as a means of empowering communities to play an active role in the socio-economic development process. In areas where resources are scarce, and financial services are made available to the poor, communities achieve faster economic growth.

AKUH to bear expenses of transexual’s cancer treatment

The News – The Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) has agreed to bear the expenses of a leukemia patient Khurram Iqbal’s treatment, said manager of the patient business services department of the hospital, Hassan Habib Sumani, while talking to The News.
Iqbal, better known as Sania Baloch, is a transexual, whose treatment was started at the AKUH in July 2009, and after a six-month treatment consisting of chemotherapy and medications, the disease relapsed and reached to a stage that she has to go through bone marrow transplantation.

Sumani told The News that the process of transplantation was stalled for a few weeks because there were no donors who could pay for the treatment and they were waiting for getting all the tests of the patient at hand before going for a surgery. He added that total cost of Sania’s treatment, including the transplantation, could be around Rs2.5 million, and the hospital could pay only Rs0.7 million for the treatment purposes. 

“However, her (Sania’s) family should be rest assured that the hospital will take care of all the expenses of the treatment,” Sumani said, adding that the remaining cost would be compensated by heavy donations Sania is getting from different people her family and colleagues have contacted. The AKUH officials further said that they would pay for the chemotherapy, provide medications and would take care of the overall cost of the bone marrow transplantation.

He said leukemia, a kind of cancer of blood and bones, is a ‘tricky disease’ which involves a lot of examinations and last minute decisions regarding the treatment as there is always a risk of a relapse.

On March 18, Sarah Gill along with Bindiya Rana who is a representative of an organisation for the transgenders, filed a petition against the AKUH administration in the Sindh High Court, for not bearing the treatment expenses of Sania Baloch.

“Her father is a mechanic and can not pay for her treatment. That is why we had to go to the court so that AKUH would pay for Sania’s treatment,” Sarah told The News, adding that now it is more than enough for her parents that the hospital is cooperating and bearing some of the expenses.

Aga Khan Foundation calls for discussions on Early Childhood Development in Syria

The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network, (AKDN), called for a meeting on Tuesday, April the 6th, to discuss an upcoming study aimed at analyzing the potential for expansion of various early childhood development initiatives carried out in Syria. 

AKF, in collaboration with the Wolfensohn Center for Development, an organization dedicated to research in the field of early childhood development, is planning to study and review three key national projects in the field of early childhood development. These projects are "The Community Center” in the village of Tal-a-Tout, (Hama governorate) initiated by AKF in partnership with the women Federation and the local community, the "Mobile Library” by FIRDOS, which aims to encourage reading in rural areas, and the "Public Library for Children” initiated by Rainbow.



he objective of this study is to identify challenges, opportunities and preconditions for successful expansion of these projects to the national level, through an analysis of best practices implemented and lessons learned. Findings from the study and recommendations will be delivered at a follow up session. 



The meeting, to be held at the Carlton Hotel in Damascus, will include representatives from a large number of organizations engaged in the field of Early Childhood Development. These include Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture – Directorate of Children’s Culture, Ministry of Health, Al-Bashaeer National School, Damascus University – Faculty of Education, Syrian Commission for Family Affairs, Women’s Federation, Center for Early Childhood Development, UNICEF, UNRWA "Bright Fingers” for publishing, in addition to representatives from AKF, FIRDOS, and Rainbow.

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NGO Connection Day celebrated

KARACHI (The Nation) – The Microsoft Pakistan and the Aga Khan Foundation, Pakistan co-hosted the country’s first NGO Connection Day (NCD) at a ceremony in Islamabad. The event encompassed an interactive dialogue on the ‘Role of ICTs for Development: Opportunities and Challenges’ where experts from academic institutions, private companies and non-profit organizations shared their perspectives on how Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) can benefit individuals and organizations to effectively address local issues and challenges. 

Dr Karim Alibhai, CEO of the Agha Khan Foundation, Pakistan (AKF- P) said “The Foundation has been working to close the ‘Digital Divide’ by creating opportunities for computer and ICTs literacy among underserved communities in Pakistan.”

Collaboration between the Kronos Quartet and the Aga Khan Music Initiative in Central Asia

The Aga Khan Music Initiative and the San Francisco-based Kronos Quartet have inaugurated a pioneering musical collaboration that brings the quartet together with leading musicians from Azerbaijan and Afghanistan to compose, arrange, and perform new music rooted in Central Asian tradition. Founded 35 years ago, Kronos is celebrated for its singular commitment to expanding the range and context of the string quartet. In 2008, the AKMICA-Kronos collaboration will produce two music programmes, and world premieres of both programmes have already been booked by leading arts presenting organisations. The first programme, featuring compositions by Homayoun Sakhi for Afghan rubab, tabla, and string quartet, is to be premiered at the Yerba Buena Arts Center Festival in San Francisco on 2 August, 2008. The second programme, featuring works for the Kronos Quartet and the Alim Qasimov Ensemble, is scheduled to open the Ramadan Nights series at the Barbican Arts Centre in London on 26 September, 2008.



The Kronos Quartet’s efforts to build bridges between Western classical music and diverse musical traditions from around the world has resulted in numerous collaborations with composers and performers who are highly regarded in their own countries or cultures, yet all but unknown in mainstream Western music. Kronos’s CDs, released on the prestigious Nonesuch label, a division of Warner Brothers Records, and intensive international touring schedule have introduced many exceptional artists to young audiences eager to broaden their musical horizons.

The Quartet’s superb musicianship, devotion to cross-cultural musical innovation, and large international audience base are well suited to the kind of artistic collaboration that AKMICA seeks to develop in its efforts to introduce leading Central Asian performers to listeners beyond the region. Kronos’s founder and artistic director, violinist David Harrington, first approached AKMICA after listening to CDs of Homayun Sakhi and Alim Qasimov released in the AKMICA-Smithsonian Folkways Music of Central Asia series. Harrington proposed a project in which Kronos would develop new compositions with both Sakhi and Qasimov based on traditional material from Afghan and Azerbaijani music.

The Azerbaijani component of the project features the voices of Alim Qasimov and his daughter, Fargana, members of Qasimov’s instrumental ensemble, and the four Kronos players. The Afghan component features Homayun Sakhi on Afghan rubab and Salar Nader on tabla performing with the Quartet. Recordings of the compositions and arrangements produced through these artistic collaborations will be released both on AKMICA’s Music of Central Asia CD-DVD series, and on the Nonesuch label, with which Kronos has had a long association. AKMICA and Kronos Arts will also collaborate in the production of concerts and media projects featuring new works rooted in Central Asian tradition.

Kronos Quartet

For more than 30 years, the Kronos Quartet – David Harrington, John Sherba (violins), Hank Dutt (viola) and Jeffrey Zeigler (cello) – has pursued a singular artistic vision, combining a spirit of fearless exploration with a commitment to expanding the range and context of the string quartet. In the process, Kronos has become one of the most celebrated and influential ensembles of our time, performing thousands of concerts worldwide, releasing more than 40 recordings of extraordinary breadth and commissioning hundreds of works and arrangements for string quartet. Kronos’ work has also garnered numerous awards, including a Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance (2004) and “Musicians of the Year” (2003) from Musical America.

Kronos’ adventurous, eclectic repertoire encompasses works by 20th-century masters (Bartók, Shostakovich, Webern), contemporary composers (Sofia Gubaidulina, Arvo Pärt, Alfred Schnittke), jazz legends (Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk), and artists from even farther afield (rock guitar hero Jimi Hendrix, Indian vocal master Pandit Pran Nath, and avant-garde saxophonist John Zorn). Integral to Kronos’ work is a series of long-running, in-depth collaborations with many of the world’s foremost composers, including Americans Terry Riley, Philip Glass, and Steve Reich; Azerbaijan’s Franghiz Ali-Zadeh; Poland’s Henryk Górecki, and Argentina’s Osvaldo Golijov. Additional collaborators from around the world have included the legendary Bollywood “playback singer” Asha Bhosle; the renowned American soprano Dawn Upshaw; Mexican rockers Café Tacuba; the Romanian gypsy band Taraf de Haïdouks; and the unbridled British cabaret trio, the Tiger Lillies.

The Quartet spends five months of each year on tour, appearing in the world’s most prestigious concert halls, clubs and festivals. Kronos is equally prolific on CD, with a discography on Nonesuch Records including Pieces of Africa (1992), a showcase of African-born composers that simultaneously topped Billboard’s Classical and World Music lists; Nuevo (2002), a Grammy- and Latin Grammy–nominated celebration of Mexican culture; and the 2003 Grammy-winner, Alban Berg’s Lyric Suite.

Aga Khan Music Initiative in Central Asia

The Aga Khan Music Initiative in Central Asia (AKMICA) was created by His Highness the Aga Khan to contribute to the preservation, documentation, and further development of Central Asia’s musical heritage. The Music Initiative pursues its long-term goals both within its region of activity and worldwide. In Central Asia these goals include revitalizing important musical repertoires by helping tradition-bearers pass on their knowledge and craft; building sustainable cultural institutions that can eventually be maintained by local organizations and communities; and supporting artists who are developing new approaches to the performance of Central Asian music. Worldwide, the Music Initiative strives to increase knowledge about Central Asia’s music and culture, particularly among students, and to nurture collaborations among musicians from different parts of Central Eurasia and beyond. The Music Initiative is a programme of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The Trust promotes the cultural mission of the Aga Khan Development Network and focuses on the physical, social, cultural and economic revitalization of communities in the Muslim world.

VIA – AKDN 

Cultivating a love of reading in young children – بچوں میں پڑھائی سے لگا ئو پیدا کرنا

Salima Jaffer reading to her children, Keyaan and Mikyle. Photo: Rahim Jaffer

Salima Jaffer reading to her children, Keyaan and Mikyle. Photo: Rahim Jaffer

The Ismali The shout “bedtime!” at the end of the day is greeted with cheers at the Jaffer household, thanks to a fun ritual that the whole family looks forward to — reading together.
“Reading a story to the children is part of our daily bedtime routine,” says Rahim Jaffer, of Vancouver — father to 5-year-old Keyaan and 22-month-old Mikyle — “so much that Keyaan won’t go to sleep unless he’s had a chance to read a story, even a short one.”

Children are like sponges: eager to learn. Research indicates that when soaked with the right kind of learning — such as reading — the benefits can resonate long after the book is closed. Parents can improve their children’s chances of being successful at school, simply by being active and regular readers to them.
But what evidence supports this belief? In a report called The Effect of Family Literacy Interventions on Children’s Acquisition of Reading, Dr Monique Sénéchal, an associate professor of psychology at Carleton University, did a review of 14 intervention studies, representing 1 174 families. She found that parent involvement does have a positive impact on children’s reading acquisition.
“Reading books to young children exposes children to ideas, concepts, and language that can be novel, more varied, and more complex than those typically introduced during parent-child conversations,” says Dr Sénéchal “Indeed, there is an association between the amount of shared reading at home and young children’s vocabulary.”

Start Early

Little Aanyah Abdullah discovers the magic of reading. Photo: Shaila Abdullah

Novelist Shaila Abdullah tells how just as her parents cultivated a love of books in her from a young age, she in turn shared this love with her daughter, Aanyah, from the moment she was born. Today, at six-years-old, Aanyah is the one reading to her mother!

In today’s society, where the bar for both success and competence is much higher than ever before, it is imperative that children acquire linguistic and cognitive skills long before entering elementary school. By the age of five, children differ markedly in their success in reaching the required developmental goals.
Laila Ladha of Texas, who is an avid reader to her 9-year-old daughter Alina, offers great advice to other parents: “From day one when your child comes home from the hospital, start reading to him or her,” she says. When her daughter was an infant, Ladha would take time out from her hectic schedule to sit down and read to her while the baby would touch the pictures. Today Alina is an advanced reader and currently enrolled in a gifted and talented programme at her elementary school.
“Reading aloud to children should begin in the womb,” says Sanil Sheriff, an instructional facilitator at an elementary school in Texas and Dean of the Learning the Language Program that helps cultivate a love of reading in young children through music and storytelling. Sheriff personally conducts such sessions for children preschool-aged and older, and is passionate about the subject. “Reading aloud to children opens their minds up to the world and builds their sense of inquiry, leading to a higher level of thinking.”

A few minutes a day to develop a habitual reader

Consistency is the key when it comes to making a commitment to read to your child, whether it is for 15 minutes, 30 minutes or interspersed throughout the day. It is also important to note that it is never too late to start, and that the commitment should not end when children begin to read on their own. It is imperative that older children are encouraged to continue the practice.
Young children might not have the patience to sit for longer lengths of time. “Sit them down on your lap and read for 30 seconds or even a minute,” advises Sheriff. “Involve them in the story by asking leading questions.” Then, gradually increase the time as their interest peeks.
Keyaan Jaffer reads “Brown Bear” to his younger brother, Mikyle. Photo: Rahim Jaffer

Keyaan Jaffer reads “Brown Bear” to his younger brother, Mikyle. Photo: Rahim Jaffer

Jaffer notes how reading to his children from an early age helped improve their language, vocabulary and grammar skills and developed their imagination. He and his wife Salima have also observed that having an older sibling interested in reading usually rubs off on the younger one as well. “Keyaan is now able to read simple stories to his little brother and they both really enjoy it,” he says.
Nazim Karim of California, who is also the editor of The Ismaili USA, notes how reading to his two sons — Alykhan and Jamil — every evening for 30 minutes, paid off in the long run. Both the boys, now in their twenties, are voracious readers and write extremely well.
“My wife used to sing nursery rhymes and lullabies from the day they were born and used to show them the pictures as she sang to them,” said Karim. “Sometimes we had to pull them away from their books just to get them to sit at the dining table.”
Ladha’s advice to other parents is to devote at least a few minutes each day to read to their children. “At bedtime, forget all chores,” she advises. “The result might not be seen instantly, but the day you see it, I guarantee you will feel proud in cultivating the love of reading in your children.”

Tips for parents

The following are tips for parents to develop healthy reading habits in their children:
  • Make reading a bonding time. Choose a book or two to read with your children as a way to spend quality time together rather than sit in front of the television. If your child has a favorite TV show, check out a book from the library that features the characters from that show.
  • Be regular in reading. Read regularly to your children and lead by example by being a reader yourself. When your children see the importance of reading in your life, chances are they would take it seriously too.
  • Visit libraries and book stores. Make regular visits to the library and bookstores with your children and help them choose books that interest them.
  • Make reading fun. When sitting with a book, discuss the visual portions of the book with your children. Younger children also respond with enthusiasm to animated expressions and special sound effects.
  • Make reading rewarding. As special incentive for good behaviour or on special occasions, reward your children with extra reading time or books. Consider putting your children into summer reading programmes. The completion of most of those programmes is rewarded with books.