Friday, 25 December 2015

Andrew Slaughter Visits 'The Jungle'

This is Andrew Slaughter, UK's shadow Human Rights minister's piece on his visit to refugee camp 'The Jungle' in Calais, France. He writes:

"I wore boots as instructed by my hosts from medical charity Hands International, but the mud was soon coming over them.
I understood why many of the volunteers, like Martin McTigue, a senior manager with the London Ambulance Service who had driven us to ‘the Jungle’, were wearing wellies. But I noticed some of the refugees wearing trainers, crocs or flip flops.
The mud dominates life in the Jungle, a refugee camp that the French authorities do not recognise as such. On the day I visited, rain alternated with sunshine, the weather was mild for December but a strong wind created a chill and battered the tents where most live.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Fire in refugee camp 'The Jungle'

 So, where to start. On the night of Friday 13th November 2015, we were going to bed in Calais town when we received a phone call telling us there was a huge fire in 'The Jungle' and that we needed to go back and help unknown number of casualties. When we got there we couldn't get to the affected area of the camp as the police were blocking access but we could see a lot of thick smoke and there were many people waiting on the road as the fire service arrived. It was very windy which luckily was blowing the smoke away from the rest of the camp; it was probably a factor in the spread of the fire, over, 2500 sq m which is what the press is reporting. The fire service struggled to contain the fire but eventually it was put out using Police water cannons.

Volunteers reacted calmly and in a measured way. We went inside the camp and opened up our vaccination clinic and prepared to receive casualties with injuries, burns and smoke inhalation. Vans were packed at the warehouse with sleeping bags and blankets and we stored them in the dome, Good Chance Calais, next door to us. The effected Sudanese residents were patient and graceful as they queued for sleeping bags and we counted out who had lost their homes. The dome became a safe, warm space to sleep as did the Woman's Centre and Ashram Kitchen, all community hubs inside The Jungle. We checked all three places for injuries but fortunately only very minor. Unknown at this point how many people were treated by the Ambulance Service or if anyone is missing.

This came after a challenging but successful day despite many obstacles. We have now vaccinated over 100 people thanks to three volunteer paramedics who came out and our space is becoming a popular place to hang out, draw, write and play music.

Our thoughts are with Parisians at the moment after the terrible and shocking terrorist attacks. We know this will affect us in The Jungle as the story unfolds but we are unsure how.

We cannot stop to mourn for Paris as we have to open up our clinic and find tents and shelters for the poor residents who have lost their homes. I am confident we will find solutions today, I am so proud of the way all the volunteers responded last night. There aren't any major charities or NGO's here, the volunteers are all unpaid and here out of goodwill but we quickly reacted to events like professionals despite many not having experiences in this. The residents of the camp remained a pleasure to work with, calm and respect ensued.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

HANDS International Team in 'The Jungle' Refugee Camp Calais

HANDS International team, supported by MCEC, were in 'The Jungle' refugee camp, Calais yesterday doing some last minute planning and preparation before we get going.
We are to inoculate against the influenza / flu virus to protect against an epidemic which, under the circumstances of the camp, would almost definitely prove to be fatal for many.
It costs approximately £10 to vaccinate one person (vaccine + consumables) so we need your help. There is an estimated 6000 refugees living on site with numbers expected to rise.
Help us save lives this Winter by donating whatever you can using this link below. 

Saturday, 17 October 2015

HANDS International Team Visits Calais Refugee Camp to Carry Out Needs Assessment

MCEC and, HANDS International Team along with 15 volunteers travelled to Calais to carry out needs assessment of the international refugees there.

The overall objective of the assessment is to improve knowledge of the humanitarian situation in the informal refugee camp located in Calais, in order to guide relief activities during the coming months of winter

The data should also help to draw international attention to the plight of this vulnerable sub-population, which is seriously affected by the crises in Syria, Libya, Sudan, Eretria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.

Specific objectives included:
-          Assessing current and future needs of people living in ‘the jungle’
-          Providing technical and operational recommendations to respond to those needs;
Providing recommendations for some basic needs and appropriately respond to the humanitarian crisis.

Following are the findings of our team:


We identified two types of shelter - both inadequate: – 1) basic polythene tents (not –waterproof) covered in temporary make shift waterproofing, 2) Wooden temporary self-built structures

1      Tents
  • Largely one man two man polythene tents
  • Some larger
  • Covered in black refuse sack plastic
  • Most pegged in the sand
  • Few mounted above the ground on wooden palettes

  • Not waterproof
  • Not weather proof
  • Not fit for habitation
  • Closely packed
  • Hazardous

 Coming into to the winter we predict:
-          Increased disease
-          Increased mortality of old and other susceptible groups
-          Increased desperation to leave

There is an urgent and pressing need for adequate shelter in preparation for winter.

 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
We identified a total of three water points:
-          All cold water
-          Inadequate
-          Open – Pipe connected were above the ground and had been disconnected
-          Not weather-proof
-          Not fit for consumption (our tests show a high presence of bacteria such as e-coli and salmonella in of the water supplies)

8 temporary toilets (all close together)
A total of 9 shower points
Saw the use of stagnant water pools for washing and urination


No evidence of temporary education facilities for children or adults
No evidence of informal education /passing on of skills or knowledge
No access to pen or paper / no basic materials to communicate in written form
Working professionals are being deskilled due to lack of practice
Unable to access religious materials like Qur’ans and Bible’s on request 


The health needs of the population was wholly unmet; Malnutrition was evident as was obvious physical injuries such as open wounds and disability (amputees). Evidence of high infections disease rate (chest infections), in a largely unvaccinated population.

Acutely unwell refugees were without treatment and at risk of transmitting their conditions onto others due to overcrowding. Clear evidence of Psychological distress and grief on their faces. We encountered medical conditions from respiratory, gastrointestinal, dermatological and musculoskeletal systems.

We saw many foot callouses and inadequate footwear.

There is a medical facility present on the ground provided by Médecins du Monde, which only runs during the daylight hours from Monday to Friday. There is no provision of emergency medical aid and access to ambulance service.

-          No means to achieve a adequate livelihood
-          No dignity/empowerment

HANDS International and MCEC concluded that there was an urgent need to provide Health and Hygiene services for the Refugees. And, jointly decided to look at the task of providing emergency medical facilities at the weekend, improvement in WASH services and the possibility of providing possible access to ambulance service, if necessary.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

HANDS Builds Model Village

Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), in collaboration with HANDS and Shell Pakistan, held a ceremony commemorating five years of integrated development initiatives in Goth Noor Mohammad, a settlement 25 kilometres from Karachi where the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation dumps 25 % of the city’s trash.

The chief guest on the occasion was Jeannette Seppen, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Five years ago, Goth Noor Mohammad was a settlement that lacked basic amenities such as running water, sanitation, school or a basic health facility. Its residents used to earn primarily through selling scrap collected from the garbage dump in the vicinity, which is the destination of about a quarter of Karachi’s waste. In 2010, PPAF and its implementing partner HANDS along with Shell Pakistan began working in Goth Noor Mohammad to help residents transform their lives for the better. As many as 133 housing and 34 sanitation units were constructed with the village divided into 51 clusters of two to three housing units while each cluster having a common kitchen, toilet and a water storage tank. Electricity and clean drinking water remained a major problem of residents so PPAF has recently installed solar lights in each housing compound while Shell Pakistan has installed a reverse osmosis plant in the settlement for clean drinking water.

Over the past five years, PPAF has spent Rs 27 million on housing, infrastructure, solar lighting, health and education facilities while Shell Pakistan has contributed additional Rs 14.3 million for housing and provision of clean drinking water. Residents in the area have also been facilitated in learning entrepreneurship skills through the Shell Tameer Program enabling them to capitalize on related business opportunities like recycling. With proper housing, drainage, access to clean drinking water, solar lighting, medical care and education, now Goth Noor Mohammad is very different from what it used to be. Qazi Azmat Isa, CEO PPAF, said, “Pakistan is going through very challenging times but hope continues to exist. It is only when people from different walks of life come together for the common good that magic happens” 


The transformation of a village

Goth Noor Muhammad is just 25 kilometres from Karachi but apart from the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) drivers no one else is  aware of how the people of this village survive. The entire village is dependent upon Karachi’s garbage.

The village lacked all basic facilities such as health, education and potable water five years back. Despite living here for over 30 years, the residents have only recently been given access to the most basic of facilities, such as shelter, a school, health facilities, a water plant and clean streets.

The Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), in collaboration with Shell Pakistan and the Health and Nutrition Development Society (HANDS), on Tuesday celebrated five years of integrated development initiatives in this settlement where the KMC dumps around 25 per cent of the city’s trash. This garbage is village’s only source of survival.

Accepting the government’s lack of interest in developing such settlements, federal state minister Abdul Hakeem Baloch said that the public-private partnership has changed people’s standard of living. “The people living in posh areas aren’t aware of the sense of deprivation that prevails in these villages,” he explained.

“Nothing has been given to these people for last 65 years,” Baloch said. “Let the world see how people live here. What they eat and how they earn.”

PPAF CEO Qazi Azmat Isa still hopes for the best. “Pakistan is going through some very challenging times but hope continues to exist. It is only when people from different walks of life come together for the common good that magic happens.”  While visiting the new facilities provided to the villagers, HANDS chief executive Dr Shaikh Tanveer Ahmed said this is first time in their life that these people will enjoy basic facilities.

In 2010, the PPAF and its implementing partner, HANDS, along with Shell, Pakistan began working in Goth Noor Muhammad to help residents change their lives for the better. As many as 133 housing and 34 sanitation units were constructed. The village divided into 51 clusters of two to three housing units, with each cluster having a common kitchen, toilet and a water storage tank.

Electricity and clean drinking water remained a major problem for the residents so the PPAF has recently installed solar-powered lights in each housing compound, while Shell installed a reverse-osmosis plant in the settlement to provide drinking water.

Over the past five years, PPAF has spent Rs27 million on housing, infrastructure, solar-powered lighting, health and education facilities, while Shell Pakistan has contributed an additional Rs14.3 million for housing and the provision of drinking water.

“It is a good work you have done. It is my first visit to Karachi and I am here with you,” said Jeannette Seppen, ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands, to the women of the village. “The first task was to motivate the community. Converting this settlement into a model village wasn’t an easy task. The infrastructure will change the living standard of these marginalised people living in Karachi’s rural area,” said the general manager of HANDS, Nadeem Wagan.


Sunday, 31 May 2015

Education in Emergencies - An Education Project for Nepalese Children

Education in Emergencies-EiE
Temporary Learning Centers
A help For Schools Children hit by Earthquake

Background Situation:
Two earthquakes struck Nepal on 25 April and 12 May killing over 8000 people and injuring 18 000. Measuring 7.8 and 7.3 on the Richter scale, the earthquakes affected 35 of the country’s 75 districts in the Western and Central Regions, including Kathmandu Valley districts. This includes mountain and hilly areas, in areas where rural populations are dispersed, as well as some very densely populated districts and Nepal’s two largest cities – greater Kathmandu and Pokhara.

The worst affected districts include Sindulpalchowk, Kabhrepalanchowk, Nuwakot, Rasuwa, Dolakha, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Dhading, Kaski, Gorkha, Lamjung, Ramechhap, Sindhuli, Makawanpur, Manang, Chitawan and Nawalparsi. Most of these districts are located in Central region and Western region.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

HANDS International Helping Nepal Earthquake Victims

Nepal is rocked by a huge 7.9 magnitude earthquake and More than 5000+ people have been reported dead (and still counting) and scores injured, infrastructure and homes have been shattered. The survivors of the earthquake are in dire need of help in this particularly worrisome predicament. We are determined to stand with the strong people of this country at this hour. HANDS International appeals to people to donate generously for the Nepal victims and lend a helping hand. All funds raised would be utilized to provide relief supplies, first aid, medical facilities, and psychological support services to the affected people.

Ø  As of 27 April, the Government reports more than 5000 deaths and 6,833 injured people.
Ø  8 million people in 39 districts have been affected, of which over 2 million people live in the 11 severely affected districts.
Ø  Priority needs include food, water, shelter and medication. Over 1.4 million people are in need of food assistance.
Ø  A Humanitarian Staging Area (HSA) in Kathmandu International Airport has been set-up to mitigate congestion at Kathmandu Airport.

Modus operandi
HANDS International & HANDS Pakistan has decided to engage in relief activities of Nepal earthquake survivors by sending specialized team of Orthopedic Surgeons, Experienced Doctors, Anesthetists and Paramedics. HANDS International will arrange surgical camps in Kathmandu teaching hospital in partnership with Rehabilitation Response and Ministry of Health. The team will remain there for as long as necessary and will provide all necessary support to the victim of earthquake. HANDS International has committed £20,575, has also had the contribution of 20,000 Euros from Medico International and is continuing to raise funds through different partners like MCEC.

HANDS International has also joined coalition of charities / NGOs including UN Muslim Welfare, Life USA, Baitul Maal USA, MCEC, Children In Need and Al Khair Foundation, to provide emergency relief in Nepal.

HANDS International appeals to you on behalf of all the charities in coalition  to donate wholeheartedly by clicking here. Your generous donations will be gratefully appreciated.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Govt signs agreement with five institutions for better health services

The Sindh government has signed an agreement with five private health organisations to run selected public health services under a public-private partnership. This is to ensure the provision of standard health facilities. The agreement was signed here on Thursday in a ceremony held at Chief Minister House.
Chief executive officer of the Indus Hospital, Dr Abdul Bari Khan signed the agreement to run the district headquarters (DHQ) hospital in Badin, whereas Prof Dr Ghaffar Billoo from HANDS signed on to run DHQ hospitals in Bin Qasim, Gadap Town and Khairpur.
Dr Sadia Qureshi of the Aman Foundation will be in charge of operating ambulance services in all districts and Dr Asim Mahmood of Integrated Health Services will be running all rural health centres (RHC), with the exception of RHCs in Thatta and Sujawal and tehsil headquarters (THQ) of Nawabshah, Larkana and Shahdadkot. Mr Mansoor Baloch on behalf of Merlin, an international health charity, signed on to run RHCs, THQs and DHQs at Thatta, Sujawal, Mirpurkhas and THQ Ghulam Shah Lakhi. The special secretary for health Dr Khalid Shaikh was present to sign the agreement on behalf of the Sindh government.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, health minister Jam Mehtab Dahar, finance minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr Sikandar Mandhro and Chief Secretary Muhammad Siddique Memon, various senior officers along with eminent personalities from the medical fraternity attended the ceremony.
He pointed out that the PPP government has practically implemented this idea and innovative strategy not only to provide standard health facilities to the poor at their doorstep, but also to enhance the capacity building of public health facilities.
“Let us succeed in this new innovative concept in the interest of the common man,” he added and said that the purpose of health organisations, in private and public sectors, was to provide better health facilities; this agreement now provides a joint platform to both.
He added that the PPP government was giving top priority to health and education and has so far invested billions of rupees to promote these sectors. He shared his optimism, believing that the people of Sindh would greatly benefit from this new venture.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Struggle for Change - The Success Story

Burfat Muhalla (Quarter) is one of the settlement located in Yousuf Goth of Union Council -7, Gadap Town in Karachi City. It’s population is estimated to 4,500 people. The living style of residents of the settlement was same as other urban slums around the Karachi City. HANDS started working in Yousuf Goth for provision of safe drinking water through sustainable resources with support of WaterAid. Not only for achievement of the object but also to ensure sustainable development, the Water supply schemes are provided with community participation. HANDS was forming Muhalla WASH Committees in each settlement of Yousuf Goth for this purpose. Same was formed in Burfat Muhalla.
Burfat Muhalla Committee Chose Muhammad Ali Burfat as their chairman to lead the committee. During the norming phase although community faced some major challenges like:
  • Bringing the community at one platform and build level of understanding on basis issues of community.
  • Encourage individuals as well as the community to embark on a process of change.
  • Mobilization for the Contribution of community in Water Schemes.
  • Complete water schemes work with the help of community.
With some efforts the community resolved the issues and water supply scheme was provided by HANDS and each household of the area got the tap water in their home.
Apart from project targeted activities community made extra efforts to make some more betterment for their vicinity. They brought the whole community at one platform and mobilized them to identify their own needs and address these needs through physical or financial inputs.
Following are some the achievement of their struggles;
  • Solution of sewerage issues.
  • Cleaning of Streets.
  • Plantation in streets.
  • White wash on the external wall in whole area.
  • Garbage collection from each household on daily basis against minimal charges.
  • Continuous efforts to keep safety from garbage and sewage.
  • Community resolves their electricity problems almost 60% and for remaining 40% community tries to rent out PMT (Pole Mounted Transformers) on monthly basis.
  • Promotion of Health and Education.
Now they are in the process of making their streets concrete. Their struggle for Change makes their settlement different from others and set example for others to follow. Other committees, who visited them, are seeking their advice for change.
Please Help HANDS to help more communities like Burfat Muhalla in many parts of the world. To donate please click here.