GRACE orgainzation pakistan NGO Grassroots Association for Community Empowerment
Home | Our History
  • 1992
  • 1993-98
  • 1998-99
  • 2000
  • 2001-06
  • 2007

GRACE Association Pakistan began in 1992 as a grassroots campaign to improve the education of girls at a time when the inhabitants of remote mountain villages in the northern area of Skardu Baltistan lived in extreme poverty. Huge deficits existed in both education and awareness, with only a few families able to send boys to school. Educating girls was considered sinful. There were no social organisations in place to address socio-economic problems.

It was at this time that seven high school children, including Khadim Hussain (who later went on to become the Association's FOUNDER), decided that action was necessary to try and modernise some local customs that were holding back progress in their community. Despite some local opposition, they were able to convince a number of parents of the benefits of education, resulting in 40 new boys being enrolled into the government school.

Encouraged by this early success, the seven students established a student organisation, WASO, to help bring about shifts in local attitudes as a starting point to improving educational prospects for all. The organization's campaign to promote education for girls led to the founding of the Al-Zahra girls' school in 1993. As time passed, long-held beliefs began to shift, leading to a steep rise in student numbers.

These developments coincided with a realisation by WASO's founders that in order to address school issues and the village's broader development needs systematically required participation by the entire village community. Therefore, WASO transformed into a larger community-based organization (CBO). By 1998, the concept of educating girls was fully accepted in the community, leading to an entirely new problem - overcrowded classrooms! To resolve the issue, the CBO and village communities collaborated to provide land, local goods and services.

Inspired by the efforts of the CBO Founders, the Murafie Foundation Pakistan granted a donation of Rs.350,000/- (approximately US$ 7,000) to help the village community construct the Al-Zahra girls' school - the first of its kind in the history of Kwardu valley. The building of a new girls' school would be an important victory in its own right, but the setting up of the Al-Zahra school is especially significant since it is the result of local communities being empowered to resolve a crucial social issue on their own.

In addition to education the founders started seeking outside support for other local development initiatives to fulfil the increased demand within the communities themselves. Simultaneously, these endeavours contributed enormously to changes in community attitudes and behaviour towards welfare and development. The CBO launched a vigorous process of community involvement to help identify the needs and problems of the community in a mutual quest to alleviate poverty. For the first time, deprived communities convened a forum to introduce improvements in farming systems by addressing common, immediate problems that were constraining the production of food and other basic commodities.