Sunday, January 22, 2006


Posted from Pakistan on Friday, January 20, 2006
By Katie Rowland, Metro Marketing & Communications Director, New York

Like four stakes clamping down a bright white tent, the pillars of the Shah Faisal Mosque stretched into the sky. The geometric building nestled at the base of the Margalla hills can hold up to 74,000 people at once.

Because today is Friday, Pakistanis go to mosques like Shah Faisal for special prayers between the hours of noon and 2 p.m. Many shops and restaurants are closed down during this time out of respect for Islamic religious customs.

This morning, we visited the Shah Faisal Mosque, which is one of the largest in Asia. By custom, we entered the building barefoot, leaving our shoes with the guards at the door.

After visiting the Mosque, we returned to the World Vision office for further briefing on our programs. We learned that 85% of Pakistanis live below the poverty line, on less than $2 per day. The earthquake compounded an already sober situation as more than one million people lost their livelihoods in the aftermath.

Various nongovernmental organizations fear that the loss of income for adults will force child survivors out of school and into work. To protect children from entering the workforce too early, World Vision has established more 15 "Child Friendly Spaces" in the earthquake region.

Child Friendly Spaces are places where children can rest, play, and develop a normal routine in a safe, friendly environment. World Vision staffers provide things such as games to increase self-confidence, basic hygiene training to improve sanitation, and movement workshops to enable children to relax, laugh, and help them forget about the horrors of the quake.

Tomorrow, Amber and I will head north to the town of Mansehra, a region that was severely impacted by the earthquake. While in Mansehra, we will begin to work in the Child Friendly Spaces, providing assistance wherever we are needed.

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