Our Asia Programme Manager, Aleena Khan, reports on the unsung heroes fighting for polio eradication in Pakistan in this captivating article for Vaccines Work.
Shifting the Narrative for Women on the Frontline of Pakistan’s Polio Eradication
Tayyuba Gul routinely visits an average of ten households a day in Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan. As she travels door-to-door, she is escorted by government personnel due to the upsurge in violence against polio workers. She is not only trained to provide the polio vaccine, but also gives advice on other vital issues such as family planning, pregnancy care and child health. As someone who comes from the community, Tayyuba feels a sense of purpose and dedication to her work and the people she serves. She sets an example for young women who need educated, strong, and brave role models within their communities, and it is imperative that unheard stories such as hers are brought to a wider audience.
Tayyubba is just one of the courageous women featured in a photo exhibition by female photojournalist Khaula Jamil, which shares stories of women who risk their lives in the battle to make Pakistan polio free.
Khaula captured these powerful images on assignment for Rotary International in which she followed the journey of Lady Health Workers and female vaccinators across Pakistan. The images depicted not only the vaccines being administered, but also the unique dynamics of Pakistan as a country that has mass movements of people within (and across) its borders.
Read the rest of the article here
It is a part of ancient Jewish tradition to leave a small stone or pebble at a grave. While there are various perspectives on why one leaves a visitation stone, what everyone agrees on is that a stone will never die. Unlike flowers, a stone is permanent, something that signifies more than just a marker of someone’s visit – it signifies permanence of memory.
As we walked through the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp on the fifth day of Muslim Jewish Conference (MJC) 2016 held in Berlin, Germany, we peeled through the historical layers of the camp, hearing about the atrocities prisoners from 42 countries had to undergo between 1936 and 1945.
At Sachsenhausen, forced labor was not a means to make goods, but to break people. Those individuals particularly detested by the Nazi regime; Jews, homosexuals and Polish intellectuals were sent to the worst sections of the camp. This was so that anyone with beliefs or ideas that the establishment considered ‘dangerous’ could have their voices collectively silenced. Here they were subjected to beatings, constant torture and even medical experiments including sterilization and castration among others. The exact number of prisoners who underwent this horrible ordeal is unknown but records show that 107 prisoners had undergone sterilization or castration by May 1941.
Prisoners were dehumanized as soon as they entered the facility, their heads shaved off, making them unrecognizable to even those from their own communities. “How can humans be so cruel to each other, when we are made to live with and love one another?” I thought to myself. These heinous acts were attempts to strip prisoners of their identity, to justify treating them as subhuman.
Read more of Aleena’s post here: http://newsweekme.com/lest-forget-experience-muslim-jewish-conference/
“Only when we think as one humanity can we save this planet,” were the passionate words of Dr Husna Ahmad, CEO of Global One, at the Interfaith Climate Symposium. She stood at the pulpit at St John’s church, Waterloo, raising the hands of Canon Giles and Rabbi Natan high in the air to signify the importance of a shared approach in caring for the earth.
The ‘Faith for Climate’ event, the first meeting of its kind, provided a platform for various multi-faith leaders on the 21st September to collaborate, share ideas and discuss best practice to action on vital environmental challenges, such as climate change. Notable members of the event included Bishop Nicholas, Sir David King, Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Rabbi Natan Levy and George Marshall.
A religious-centred approach to tackling climate change is one that is rarely advocated yet within Islam alone, caring for the environment is embedded within Islamic teachings, making it the responsibility for the 1.6 billion Muslims across the world.
During her speech, Dr Husna exemplified how the Qu’ran places conservation responsibilities on humans, making them the caretakers, khalifas, of the earth. “I am going to place in the earth a khalifa (steward)” [Quran 2:30].
With some of the most impoverished communities around the world being the first to sustain the worst effects of climate change, this clear injustice, if left unresolved, will continue to pollute our atmosphere, damage our ecosystem and threaten the lives of billions of people across the world.
Islam and Climate Change
Through Islamic teachings, Muslims are told repeatedly to respect the earth and care for the environment, as part of their religious duties and obedience to the Creator. The environmentally-conscious behaviour integral to Islam, makes it imperative for Muslims to take an active role in combating climate change. This also includes collaborating with other faiths to promote interfaith dialogue and widen response efforts.
However, a united interfaith movement can only well and truly be adopted if we are willing to stand up for the religious freedoms of our brothers and sisters of other faiths. During the Interfaith Climate Symposium, Dr Husna clearly outlined it in her speech:
“I need my brothers here with me – Canon Giles and Rabbi Natan. [I need them] to be my voice, to fight for my right to practice my religion, for my right to wear the hijab and to care for my sons and daughters and granddaughters – as they would care for their own”.
A collaborative approach to tackling climate change would provide a more proficient and effective response to protecting our planet. At the heart of the solution, however, lies a need to stand together as One Humanity.
How can we stand as one if we refuse to dispel religious intolerance, discrimination or prejudice against another? How can we stand as one if we refuse to promote religious freedom? How can we stand as one when we refuse to fight for the rights of our brother and sisters in practising their religion?
Only when we well and truly think as one can we hope to save this planet against any forms of environmental damage!
Read the Interfaith Climate Symposium featured in the NewStatesman here