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Transforming Narratives

Al Noor community in Karachi is a migrant population with 130 households and 780 individuals. Majority of the population is associated with low income professions or relies on daily wage laborious tasks. Resultantly, they fail to suffice economic grievances of the people. In these circumstances education takes a back seat on priority list.  Education of children becomes secondary as they battle for day to day survival. Early Childhood Education and Development is not even a consideration for these families.Evaluating the need of this community, Rupani Foundation planned to initiate its AW-IP center to bring aboutimprovement and change. RF approached the community to start its Agah Walidain –Informed Parents initiative. The first impression of this community was shared by focal person in these words.“It was said that the community is rigid and incorporative. Different developmental entitiesimplemented/initiated projects but could not succeed and closed their initiative. Sustainability of initiative would be challenging for RF”.Despite the odds, Rupani Foundation established a full-fledged AW-IP center and RF team started mobilizing community through orientation cum awarenesscampaign that included sessions for community, dialogues and meeting with focal persons and community representatives. Regardless of the rigorous efforts only 5 children get enrolled. This was a major setback.  The enrolled children and their mothers were neither punctual nor regular. The families were disinterested as a result enrollment remained stagnant at 5.Rupani Foundation teams remained persistent in adversity and rethought the approach and opted for a new discourse to probe the real reasons.In this effort, door to door visits were carried out in community to interact with families first hand.Eligible household were targeted and direct interaction with mothers was bolstered, the findings revealed multi factors behind theirnon-participation and disinterest; that included myths about Early Childhood Care and Development, traditionalelders, joint family system and limited resources.In this perspective, RF re-strategized its mobilization techniques

Against conventional modes like lecturing and presentation for awareness session RF team opted for interactive sessions like practicaldemonstration of AW-IP regular sessions, experience sharing of already enrolled mothers and their children. The enrolled children and mothers functioned as ambassadors of Agah Walidain (Informed Parents) and motivated other community members. After witnessingimprovement and change in children and mothers, community members reconsidered their previousperceptions and enrolled children at the center. The efforts and perseverance of RF bore fruit and a gradual but steady change occurred over period of 7 months. Enrollment increased manifolds; from 5 enrollments it increased to 12. Outof 15 eligible children 12 children are enrolled incenter; which is80%of total eligible children of total eligible children. One of the grandmothers expressed her feelings in these words “I was against sending my grandchild to this center; I also convinced my neighbor lady on the impossibility of a 3 years old child learning and benefiting. But  seeing  enrolled children  at the center responding to directions of  their  teacher( FSM) and mothers , saying greetings properly,  placing back  their toys in shelves,  knowing names of so many animals, birds , fruits  and  most of all so actively doing actions at the same time singing rhymes just amazed me. Now my grand child is going to attend this center; I promise