Creating access for education combats disease while increasing health

In 2018, about 86% of the world’s children receive vaccines that protect them against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and measles, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said. An estimated 6.3 million children under 15 years of age died in 2017, or 1 every 5 seconds, mostly of preventable causes, according to new mortality estimates released by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Population Division and the World Bank Group. Approximately 5.4 million of these deaths occur before the age of five.

“Without urgent action, 56 million children under five will die from now until 2030 – half of them newborns,” said Laurence Chandy, UNICEF Director of Data, Research and Policy. “We have made remarkable progress to save children since 1990, but millions are still dying because of who they are and where they are born. With simple solutions like medicines, clean water, electricity and vaccines, we can change that reality for every child.”

Now, let’s look at this from a national perspective as opposed to international. Every year approximately 0.4 million children have died in Pakistan during or after birth. Most of them can’t celebrate their first birthday, among them 80,000 thousand died due to Pneumonia, which is the leading cause of death and often preventable. Pakistan is home to approximately 197 million individuals, a majority of which live in the city of Karachi. Within Karachi, there are small villages on the outskirts of the city, which can sometimes be a breeding ground for infectious diseases and illnesses due to poor living conditions, as well as lack of work and educational opportunities available.

Jam Chakro Village in Karachi faces a similar problem. The area is known as Kachra Kind in which more than 100 tons of garbage is dumped in the village daily. The town receives its income mainly from the recreations and sales of city garbage. With no other work readily accessible, the town’s people rely on the collection of garbage to make its income. The people collect garbage and used plastic from the surrounding city and reshape and reconstruct it to sell to others. This has caused excessive pollution and disease in the area and without the proper facilities makes citizens in this area prone to preventable diseases.

Prior to our DREAMS campus, the village had zero access to education. In 2012, we partnered with the Idara Al Khair Welfare society to help bring hope to this community. Today, we are funding over 3 campuses with more than 1,000 students. Our campuses are open to all backgrounds, religions, ages, genders- we are non religious, non political and non discriminatory.

But how does building a school help as opposed to only donating and funding these areas?
The answer is more money does not mean better health and sustainability.

Building schools in areas like this allows for accessibility to those who may fear the unknown, as well as offers a change in environment and potentially better living conditions. The U.S. uses a similar approach to its crime-ridden cities, by creating universities in crime driven areas they force change in the atmosphere of the city. It may be slow but it is progress.

Proving accessible and quality education not only allows people to be strengthened but can help the environment as well. Through education, the prevention and treatment of diseases can be taught alongside methods to progress towards better living. If slums were turned into better living conditions the people would be less likely to become ill and the survival rate would increase as well. Not to mention, disease and hygiene education allow for preventable measures to be taken in escalating disease. Financing to improve access and equality of education to teach prevention methods has been proven to be better for a society, in terms of health and sustainable development, than only focusing on building hospitals for treatment or treatment costs.

Difference between child attending and not attending school in the same village.

Thaakat works on the ground to report and conduct followups of all money and investments to ensure that not only are these educational institutions being built but they are accessible and in use. Our DREAMS for Kachra Kundi funds are not only used for ongoing expansions of classrooms and facilities, but for general healthcare and emergency medical aid for students and villagers. We also implement disease prevention and hygiene education in curriculums. Alongside physical health and education, mental and emotional health is also of utmost priority to our organization. We have an on-campus playground open to all villagers and students to ensure students enjoy their time at our facility. 

Our partnerships with local hospitals also allow us to provide students and villagers with treatment at a discounted cost to us. Pictured below is Ahsana, a young student at our ‘Dreams for Kachra Kundi’ school site. She was born with an infection and lost vision in one eye. Though she had vision in her right eye, the pressure she was putting on it had made it weak and her vision blurry. Our DREAMS project and donations allowed for her to see better with glasses. 

Another thing Thaakat does that separates it from the rest is conducting weekly visits with students’ families to counsel and encourage attendance especially among young girls. According to the United Nations, countries with more girls who complete secondary school have lower maternal mortality rates, lower rates of HIV/AIDS, and their children have better survival rates and better child nutrition. Thaakat is proud to say that over 40% of our school population consists of girls. 

Education is the answer to creating a more sustainable environment for not only Pakistan but all of society. It allows for better health, opportunity, and change. Without quality education, preventable diseases will continue to kill thousands to millions around the world. Your small donation to our DREAMS campus not only provides quality education for students but helps improve community health by funding resources, healthcare, and prevention education. Funding only hospitals and providing treatment does not solve the root of the problem, without steps towards prevention and education, preventable diseases will continue to escalate.