Update from Swat

Dear Friends and supporters,

I want to give you an update on our activities to date. I have been working nonstop to get our Preventive healthcare project, in collaboration with HDF, off the ground. When I first arrived in Islamabad in May, I had a private meeting with the US Ambassador Ann Patterson, Deputy of Mission Gerald Feiersteine and refugee coordinator Liane Dorsey in the US embassy. We had a detailed talk with the Ambassador and presented her with our current project as well as our future proposal to make Swat into a model district.

The HDF team and Swat Relief Initiative have been working diligently, hiring and training the staff for our preventive healthcare program in Swat. The building for our Community Health Center is ready for use, and, day after tomorrow, our training session will be completed and our team will be ready to go into the field to teach women about preventive healthcare, hygiene and nutrition. We will also be monitoring pregnant and lactating women and children under 5 in order to prevent malnutrition and reduce female and infant mortality and improve maternal health. Our HDF team has been extremely efficient and professional in conducting the training sessions for our staff and I say this with confidence as I have personally attended all the training sessions with our staff members.

I also wanted to inform every one of a grave situation I witnessed. Since I have come to Swat many people have been telling me to visit the maternity ward in the Saidu Hospital because the practices there are atrocious. I visited the maternity ward a few days ago and the condition there was beyond belief. I did not sleep for several nights, haunted by the sights I witnessed during my surprise visit there. The stench was stifling, the birthing beds were all torn with deep craters and were never cleaned of blood between patients, the vacuum cup and surgical instruments used on each patient were not even washed, leave alone sterilized between each patient, contraction inducing drugs and episiotomies were given prematurely resulting in ruptured uteruses and unnecessary bleeding. In the 5 hours that I was there not a single doctor could be seen and on top it all the nurses and staff were extremely rude to the patients, slapping them and yelling at them frequently. I am appealing to everyone to join hands to remedy this situation. I am really disturbed by what I saw. I have, personally, taken it upon myself to fix this situation before I leave Swat. If any one else wants to help please let me know.

Best regards,

Zebu Jilani, President, Swat Relief Initiative



Letter from the Founders

Dear Friends,

We have always felt a debt of gratitude to the social institutions under which we grew up: Pakistan in the 60’s.  Today, unfortunately, those institutions are but a pale semblance of what they used to be. We were privileged but came from families that, despite their station in society, gave and taught us to give of ourselves to those who were less privileged.

This background, and our subsequent achievements in life, put us in a position to help the most needy people in Pakistan.  We are most effective in Swat:  This is in the region we are from, this is where we best know the people and this is where the people know us well.

We started Swat Relief Initiative at a time when the people of Swat went through the first major trauma of three major disasters: the 2008 Taliban takeover, the ensuing 2009 war and the 2010 mega-floods.

The most vulnerable segments of Swati society are the women and children – they are our focus.  We bring the men along too, for they are key to helping develop a milieu in which women and children can grow into fully contributing members of society.

We have a holistic approach to social growth with programs in Social Mobilization, Health, Education, Economic Development and Sustainable Environment. While working in these areas of social development we partner, when necessary, with individuals and organizations that can supplement our expertise and impact.

Of course, we cannot do any of this without the help of your continuing generous contributions, which we continue to pledge will go directly to where they are needed the most: programs and projects on the ground that provide the greatest opportunity for less fortunate women and children to thrive.


Zebu and Arshad Jilani