The USAID Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Program (SGAFP) organized a publicity event on February 23, 2017, in Karachi to showcase the program’s achievements and its overall impact in Sindh province. USAID has supported 53 grants in 14 different thematic areas, and benefitted more than 280,000 people in Sindh under the Program.

More than 170 representatives from USAID, the grantee organizations, donor agencies, provincial government, media and grant beneficiaries attended the event. The Deputy Speaker of Sindh Assembly, Syeda Shehla Raza graced the event as Chief Guest and ?Ms. Denise Herbol, USAID Deputy Mission Director as Guest of Honor. Other representatives from USAID included Mr. Saqib Khan, Project Management Specialist (Agriculture), Mr. Lila Ram, Project Management Specialist (Education), and Mr. Haris Masood Zuberi, Development Outreach and Communications Specialist.

Rafia Rauf, master of ceremony, welcomed the participants and highlighted the event objectives.

The event opened with an inspiring presentation of the Pakistan national anthem in sign language by the children of the Deaf Reach School, Rashidabad. USAID has supported the school by providing equipment, furniture and built technical capacity of its teachers. The meticulously synchronized performance of the group of deaf children communicating the meaning of the anthem in sign language created a spellbinding effect and deeply touched the participants.

Saeed Ashraf Siddiqi, Chief of Party, SGAFP provided an overview of the Program and highlighted the Program’s accomplishments from various perspectives. He observed that “since inception, the Program has achieved many milestones and created impacts at various levels. SGAFP is touching and transforming the lives of underprivileged communities, empowering them through their participation in the local decision making processes, fostering the culture of transparency and accountability in project implementation, and building institutional capacity of local NGOs. The program on the whole is, therefore, instrumental in establishing a vibrant and dynamic civil society”.

The ensuing segment featured a grant project documentary and experience sharing by a grantee representative and beneficiaries of another grant project. The participants showed great interest in this segment and generously appreciated the grant activities and their impact.

A documentary titled, ‘The Art of Revival’ vividly depicted SGAFP’s contribution towards economic growth, women empowerment and advancement of minorities in 116 villages of Tharparkar, Sindh. It highlighted how USAID helped transform the lives of 1,200 female artisans by reviving the dying art of block printing, and the preservation of indigenous stitches. The transformational impact of the grant project on the lives of the targeted communities inspired the audience.

Dr. Asher Hasan, Founder of Naya Jeevan (NJ), a grantee organization, explained the need for providing an Integrated Health Plan to the residents of Sultanabad – an urban slum area in Karachi hosting one of the most vulnerable and low –income communities in Karachi. He highlighted the key features of the integrated Health plan and the impact of the project. The 18-month Plan provided health insurance to over 1000 households (5000 individuals), tele-health and OPD services to over 25,000 people. The project immensely supported the targeted vulnerable group especially the females in accessing the quality healthcare services which otherwise remain an elusive reality for the underprivileged communities in Pakistan.

This was followed by an enthralling interactive session between the master of ceremony and the three beneficiaries of a grant awarded to “Management & Development Foundation (MDF)” including a teacher and the two students of Grade I and II. The MDF grant prompted interactive learning, reading critical thinking skills in students of 69 Government schools. Hameeda Bibi, a teacher from Government Girl’s School in Dadu shared the impact of the training that she received under the grant. She pointed out that the training enabled her to acquire new skills to make her classroom more interactive, inculcate interest and zeal for learning in the students leading to increased retention as well as enrolment of the students. To demonstrate the success of these efforts, little Miss Zindagi from Grade 2 recited a poem ‘Clap your hands’, while Iman from Grade 1 sang ‘One, two buckle my shoe’. Both girls received tremendous applause from the audience.

Ms. Denise Herbol in her remarks highlighted the “enormous contributions of the Program to the lives of so many members of the beneficiary communities.” Citing instances of various grant projects, she pointed out that the support provided through the program bore testimony to the fact that the U.S. government remained committed to continuing and strengthening its enduring relationship with Pakistan and its people.

Sharing her reflections on SGAFP’s work and contribution to the development process in Sindh, Syeda Shehla Raza acknowledged the support provided by the United States Government to Pakistan. She observed that “the grants awarded through the program are not only complementing development priorities of Government of Sindh, but are also empowering the Sindhi people through community based self-help initiatives.” She thanked the Deputy Mission Director and USAID for their support and pledged Government of Sindh’s continuous support to USAID’s development projects in Sindh.

The event also featured a grant signing ceremony. SGAFP and two new grantee organizations including ‘Shehri Citizens for a better environment’ and ‘Sindh Community Foundation’ signed the grant agreements in the ceremony witnessed by the Chief Guest and the Guest of Honor.

The Shehri Citizens plan to ensure proactive and informed engagement of citizens of Karachi in the functioning of city government on the one hand, and facilitate government departments and agencies in provision of timely and effective service delivery on the other. The Sindh Community Foundation (SCF) aims to improve girls’ education status in 20 Government Schools of Districts Matiari and Tando Muhammad Khan by providing missing facilities and building capacities of teaching faculty.

The grant signing marked the end of the event. The master of ceremony thanked all the guests for their participation and the speakers for their kind words of encouragement and appreciation before concluding the event.

The very well attended event provided an opportunity to the USAID team and the government representatives to directly interact with the representatives of the grantees and the grant beneficiaries and gain first-hand information about the impact of the grants in transforming their lives. The event attracted significant publicity and media coverage.