9:17 am - Sunday March 15, 2015

I believe in the power of social mobilization; that once the rural poor organized, important changes can come about in Pakistan: Dr Khangharani

Sukkur: A Renowned leader of the social development sector Dr Sono Khangharani (Tamgha-i-Imtiaz) believes in the power of social mobilisation; that once the rural poor are organised, important changes can come about in Pakistan. He also believes that talent and potential must be harnessed through education, training, and diversification of skills. While In his exclusive interview with EHAD-E NAU, a weekly magazine publishes by Associated Press of Pakistan at head office of Sindh Rural Support Orgnization (SRSO) Sukkur, he said that I had to work extra hard to prove myself because of the class I was coming from. Poverty is disturbing because it deprives you of choices. You don’t have the freedom to fulfil your dreams.
During the interview he defended the provincial government for its contribution towards the rural development of Sindh, saying that the work that is being done in this regard would produce long term results.
To a question, he said that I grew up in Thar. Except for one image, all my childhood images were made up of recurring droughts, malnutrition, misery, lack of education and health care and sheer hard labour for mere survival. My dejection led me to believe that all our efforts are in vain and whatever we do is merely a drop in the ocean.
He said that he has only image that was different came to my rescue. It was of a boy and a girl, undernourished and barefoot, playing joyously in the sand. They were trying to build small houses with pebbles, sand and stones. They failed again and again but they kept trying. I remember the two kids as they were my neighbours. They have grown up but have not given up their struggle, he added.
Dr Sono Khangharani was six years old in 1960 when he started attending school with his brother in a chounra near Islamkot. He felt that it would allow him greater autonomy and independence to think creatively; he could transform the organisation and be recognized for it. The most challenging aspect was moving back to Tharparkar, he recalls. “There was caste discrimination, hunger and disasters such as droughts and floods,” he added.
Moreover, two books have been published in Sindhi to highlight the contribution of Dr Sono Khangharani, a leader of the social development sector, in introducing an indigenous model to alleviate poverty in the province. The books, The Voice of the Desert and A Ray of Hope, have been simultaneously published by two different organizations, and portrayed the life, work and experiences of the social sector leader.
Dr Khangharani is recognised across South Asia as an expert on the causes of poverty in the region, especially in Thar and all rural aras of the Sindh province, where people are facing acute poverty, food shortage and lack of health and education facilities. He presently leads two organizations like the Sindh Rural Support Organisation (SRSO) and Thardeep Rural Development Programme (TRDP).
The first book, The Voice of the Desert, has been compiled by Mahran Mallah of the Sindh Agricultural and Forestry Workers Coordinating Organisation (SAFWCO), and contains a comprehensive interview with Dr Khangharani, depicting his childhood, achievements and struggle to end poverty.
The other book, A Ray of Hope, has been compiled by Abbas Khoso, a poet and writer, has been published by East Line Publishing House Hyderabad, and contains 28 articles, profiles and features contributed by different writers, civil society activists and community leaders to pay tribute to Dr Khangharani. In a gathering, organised by Eastern Publishing House, prominent leaders of the public sector said that Dr Khangharani, who hails from a low-income family of Thar, had introduced a successful model for poverty alleviation. Activists of the social development sector suggested that even if public sector universities donot add these two books to their syllabus, development sector organisations must make them part of their skill development courses.
Civil society representatives further said that Dr Khangharani’s contribution to make TRDP a successful project is immense. They added that the project was initially run by a leading funding agency, Save the Children Fund. When they decided to windup the project in Islamkot, Tharparkar district, they handed over the project to the newly established TRD, of which Dr Khangharani was a founding member.
While handing over the project to the TRDP, we never imagined that one day it will become this successful in Sindh under the command of Dr Khangharani. Now, I am proud to say that he (Dr Khangharani) has the talent, skill and commitment to bring a positive change,” said Dr Naseer Nizamani, chairman of the TRDP board of directors, and former country head of Save the Children. In his address, Dr Khangharani appreciated the efforts of his team, and said that works attributed to him are in fact a result of team work. He also praised the Sindh government for allocating Rs10 billion to SRSO for rural development and poverty alleviation in the province. Comrade Rochi Ram said that it was Dr Sono’s leadership due to which similar models of poverty alleviation have been adopted in other provinces adding that h was of the view that the change is only possible with enhancing political consciousness. SAFWCO `s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Suleman Abro said that Dr Khangharani has always been an envoy of the poor of this South Asian region. Dr Sono grew up in an atmosphere where persistent drought, malnutrition, lack of education and health care were affecting impoverished communities. This is why he knows the real causes of poverty,” Abro said.
Dr Sono is encouraging and assisting LSOs to register as citizen community boards that will allow them to participate and benefit from the government plans. In this way, he is contributing his bit in improving the lives of the marginalised communities in one of the most deprived places of the country.

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