December 01, 2010

AKF Alumni News (2005-06)

Alumni News

Dr. Azizullah Baig (ISP 02-03) from Pakistan has joined FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance, Afghanistan as a Programme Coordinator in Kabul. He sent AKF the following description of his experiences and impressions:

"In June 2004, when I was interviewed at the FOCUS head office in the UK for the position of a Projects Coordinator in the Badakshan province of Afghanistan, I was astounded to learn that Badakshan has the highest maternal mortality in the world (6,500 per 100,000 live births); more than half of the population is malnourished; 78% of the population does not have access to clean water; vaccine coverage is less than 30%; most of the areas are food insecure and deprived of roads; that it takes days to access the most remote districts via donkeys. It seemed challenging to work in a country where the after affects of 30 years of war were still prevalent.
"FOCUS was the first international NGO to begin working in Badakshan in 1996. Due to the prolonged civil war and a severe drought, people were dying. Malnutrition, diarrhea, respiratory tract infections and pregnancy-related deaths were quite common. FOCUS provided free food, medicines, shoes and clothes to the most vulnerable provinces of Afghanistan. "I started work in Badakshan in September 2004, just at the time the AKDN office in Faizabad was attacked and set on fire by a crowd of 800 people. I was caught and beaten by the angry mob. A hand bomb was fired at AKDN staff house in Baharak, where I was staying, but luckily I survived. In the beginning, I greatly regretted that I had left my job in London (where I had been working as a Public Health Researcher) and had come to work in Afghanistan. Soon, however, I came to realize the importance of my mission and decided to stay whatever the circumstances. "Not only am I proud to be part of the work of FOCUS, but I find that working in perilous and remote areas of Afghanistan can be an unforgettable life experience. We cross rivers and mountains and walk for days to provide assistance to needy people. I can truly say that I consider myself to be lucky to have been given such an opportunity."

Source:  Aga Khan Foundation