About Khwendo Kor
|Maryam Bibi (KK's Chief Executive) grew up the Tribal areas. Together with four women friends, she established Khwendo Kor (Pashto for 'Sister's Home') in 1993. Khwendo Kor (KK) is a non-profit, non-political, non-governmental organisation, which was established in 1993 and is registered in Peshawar, Pakistan under the 1860 Societies Act.
Khwendo Kor works to improve the well being of women and children in two of the poorest and most conservative areas of the world - Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly known as North West Frontier Province) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. In this conservative, poor and war-torn region, women have traditionally been powerless and often abused. In the areas where KK works, only around three in a hundred women can read, and their chance of dying in childbirth is as high as anywhere in the world. Khwendo Kor works for the benefit of these women and of their children. Its efforts are primarily centred around improving the education, health, training and micro-credit opportunities available to women and children in the region as providing more general advocacy and training in democracy.
Since its formation Khwendo Kor has:
| In 2010 the work Khwendo Kor featured in an episode of Al Jazeera English's flagship documentary series 'Witness'. The documentary can be viewed by clicking the play button in the above image.
- Established hundreds of Community Based Primary Schools for Girls and has graduated many thousands of students
- Established Adult Literacy Centres for women
- Trained village based young women as teachers
- Developed and trained female and male Village Education Committees to manage and supervise the schools
- Trained Traditional Birth Attendants who are now providing hygienic and skilled services in their local villages
- Provided training and micro-credit to women to enable them to gain some measure of financial independence through activities such as animal husbandry, street vending, village shops, vegetable production and the making and selling of craft goods
- Worked in well over 200 villages
- Represented the views and interests of these village people throughout the world at meetings with, among others, the President of Pakistan, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the UK House of Lords.
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How does KK go about its work?
Khwendo Kor works with local people rather than for them. It agrees its projects with local villagers and helps them form women’s and men’s committees, who then work with it. For example, the men’s education committee may take responsibility for the buildings of a school or for the security of the teachers. Teachers are often absent from government schools and paid for work they do not do. Women’s committees prevent such abuses and also give the women self-confidence and organizational skills. In these ways, KK helps the local community to help itself while building sustainable high quality provision.
How does its local work link to its advocacy and indirect work?
KK is a credible organisation in touch with local people but also able to present their views at the highest level. Its staff have appeared on national television programmes and the Chief Executive has quite recently taken part in separate meetings with the late Richard Holbrooke (the then USA ‘policy coordinator for Afghanistan and Pakistan’), US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the President of Pakistan. Khwendo Kor helps register female candidates in the local elections; enables women to get identity cards and hence be eligible to vote and obtain certain financial benefits; and works with other NGOs to press for key policy changes (e.g. in the regulations governing FATA).
How does it survive in a war-torn area?
KK works in areas where others cannot. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly known as North West Frontier Province) and Tribal Areas are in the frontline of the ‘war on terror’. They are dangerous for those who work on behalf of women and KK is almost the only NGO able to focus on this. The key is its local support, knowledge and sensitivity. In the end, all the warring factions in these areas need the support of local people. Its grassroots support and scrupulously Islamic approach enables KK’s work to go on.
Is Khwendo Kor cost effective?
Each of Khwendo Kor’s projects both builds on and contributes to its local support and national credibility. The result is a highly cost effective organisation which has, for example, founded over 200 schools and trained nearly 1000 traditional birth attendants in safe practice. Khwendo Kor is scrupulously honest. It has attracted support from UK, Dutch, German, Canadian, Norwegian, American and United Nations donors, who insist on the rigorous inspection of the probity, quality and effectiveness of KK’s work.
So why does it need your support?
Khwendo Kor’s international donors give money for very specific ends. They are keen to start schools but not so ready to provide ongoing support or fund general administration, security, fund raising or a rapid and flexible response to emergencies. Khwendo Kor needs a fund to enable it to meet these needs, but also money for particular projects that have not attracted international support. Currently it is seeking money to:
- Maintain an office in Islamabad. £40,000 is needed allow KK to continue its advocacy and fundraising work in Pakistan’s political and diplomatic capital over the next two years
- Improve staff security – KK staff continue their work despite threats to their lives. £51,000 is needed to provide security equipment, security guards and health and life insurance for staff.
- Develop land donated to it in Karak. £50,000 is needed in order to provide a women’s centre on land which KK has been given in the Karak District.
- Carry out a preventive project aimed at Thalassemia. This dangerous, genetic disease is endemic in this part of the world. The project will be carried out with a hospital in Peshawar, and focus on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in the Karak, Dir and Peshawar districts. £170,000 is needed for community education, work at a policy level and with religious leaders, and the development of a laboratory and blood transfusion centre in Peshawar.
Donors can be confident that their money ‘buys’ more than the object for which it is given. Money for services also enables local people to organize themselves and present their views at a higher level. Money given for social organisation or advocacy helps local people to maintain service provision where access is difficult for outsiders. Health provision may not only save lives but also helps develop a more just and democratic society. In these ways, donors can help to bring about and maintain change in an area that is of interest to the peace and good governance of the whole world.
In short, Khwendo Kor works:
- For both peace and justice
- With people rather than for people
- In an area that is dangerous, in great need and difficult to access
- At a local level and also nationally and internationally
- In a part of the world that is important for us all
It needs money urgently to maintain its work and develop key projects.
How can FROK help me Support Khwendo Kor?
In lots of ways! FROK is the UK charity that exists to help Khwendo Kor. You can:
- join FROK as a member
- contribute to KK through FROK on a regular basis
- work locally with other FROK members to raise money for KK or raise awareness of what KK does
- liaise with KK about the way your particular skills may be of help to them.