The Date Project Blog
Improving the Health and Nutrition of Pakistanis
Over 70% of Pakistanis live in rural areas, cutting them off from provisions such as healthcare and food. Years of earthquakes, droughts and floods have taken their toll on the country. One in five people suffer and live under the poverty line, often eking out a subsistence living.
Pakistan is facing two huge problems: a food crisis and a lack of eyecare for its citizens. 43% of Pakistanis face food insecurity, and 10% of the population are visually impaired.
After reading these shocking statistics, SKT Welfare started two projects in Pakistan to help the country’s most needy and improve thousands of lives.
Healthcare in Pakistan isn’t widely available. A third of the population do not have access to any healthcare. This has devastating effects on health and life expectancy. Eyecare is seriously lacking. Of the 10% of visually impaired individuals, over half of them suffer from cataracts. In the west, surgery to remove cataracts is a straightforward procedure. This simple operation allows the patient to benefit from the gift of sight.
Being visually impaired can stop people from working and robs them of their lives.
80% of blind Pakistanis can be cured by prevention or treatment. Bearing in mind these harsh facts, in 2016, SKT Welfare sponsored a two-week programme of “eye camps” in two locations: Malakwaal and Mohaal, near the town of Dina.
The camps saw two days of screening for cataracts, presbyopia and ocular motility. Children were also screened for refractive error, which can result in short-sightedness. Following the screening, the remaining time was dedicated to treating eye infections, arranging prescriptions and spectacles. Surgical procedures were also performed for individuals with correctible problems. SKT Welfare provided:
- Nearly 2,000 people with cataract screening
- 1,015 patients with medication for infections
- 151 cataract operations
- 1,070 pairs of reading glasses for adults
- 254 pairs of glasses for children
The treatments delivered gave people back their lives. It allowed for the continued participation and integration of all visually-impaired individuals within their communities.
43% of the country’s citizens are food insecure. 18% are facing a severe food shortage. Around 15% of the population under the age of five is acutely malnourished. When combined with unhygienic living conditions, no access to clean water or adequate sanitation, children are at a high risk of developing infections and serious illnesses.
Diet and nutrition are directly related to a child’s ability to learn and develop. Having access to food and maintaining a healthy diet is lifechanging for families with starving children. It enables to improve their learning abilities and improve their overall physical and mental wellbeing.
Building on its excellent eyecare programme, SKT Welfare began providing food packages to starving families in Pakistan. During the winter months, packs were delivered to 1000 families in the outskirts of Lahore and Punjab. The food packs comprised essential food items such as oil, ghee, semolina, sugar, tea, vermicelli, chick peas, lentils, rice and flour.
In 2017, a staggering 10,000 food parcels were delivered, providing essential support to nearly 160,000 people.
SKT Welfare continued to provide vital aid during the holy month of Ramadan. The unique Iftar programme in Pakistan provided food parcels and meals in Rajanpur. This area is one of the poorest provinces in the whole of Pakistan where poverty, illiteracy and disease is widespread. There were 10,000 direct beneficiaries of Iftar programme.
The Date Project
SKT Welfare’s hugely successful Date Project has raised thousands of pounds and fed millions in Syria. For Ramadan 2018, Pakistan was added with a beautifully designed box. By buying just one box of the finest ethically-sourced medjoul dates, you can help support SKT Welfare’s lifechanging eyecare work.
To find out more and buy your tin of finest medjoul dates, please click here.
The Date Project- Palestine
In Gaza, over 100,000 people have become homeless in recent years. The Gaza Strip is one of the most troubled and overpopulated in the world. The 2 million population is crammed into 360sq km of land.. Sadly, 80% of Palestinians rely on humanitarian aid. Around 42% of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are impoverished, with 80% relying on aid. Power plants and water pumps require vast amounts of electricity which is in short supply. Consequently, there is an alarming water crisis.
The water is contaminated by seawater, sewage and chemicals, and the area’s three desalination plants have failed to meet the population’s needs. Research shows that only 10% of inhabitants in Gaza have access to clean water, which itself is in decline.
Given the dire situation in Palestine, SKT Welfare have been working on water projects to facilitate access to clean drinking water for the local population. Providing them with access to clean water is vital to ensuring the good health of Palestinians.
The Desalination Plants
SKT Welfare aim to contribute to finding a solution to the unavailability of clean water. Twenty desalination plants were destroyed in the Gaza Strip, impacting nearly half of the country’s population of 1.8 million. The destruction of the desalination plants means that 95% of the water is undrinkable. If nothing is done to rectify this, the Gaza Strip will not be habitable by 2020. The charity has invested in two desalination plants, which convert salt water into fresh drinking water.
The plants have targeted impoverished and desperate populations, who previously had to travel several miles to collect sanitary water. The plants are in the Al-Moare area in Gaza, where residents had no access to a water well within 4km of their homes. This investment has meant that:
- The plants have benefited approximately 0.5 million people
- Each produces 50,000 litres of water daily
- Overall, 22.5 million litres of fresh drinking water has been provided for Palestinians
The Date Project
SKT Welfare’s hugely successful Date Project has raised thousands of pounds and fed millions in Syria. For Ramadan 2017, Palestine was added with a beautifully designed box in Palestinian colours. By selling just one box of the finest ethically-sourced medjoul dates, a Palestinian family receive 500 litres of water.
This makes huge changes to the lives of the suffering residents of Gaza and will restore hope to those who currently travel several miles to collect water.
Bread and Dates- How The Date Project Funds The Al-Huda Bakery
For seven long years, the war in Syria has raged on and displaced over 11 million Syrians- half the country’s population. Since 2011, the country has descended into civil war. Many people have been forced from their homes and have fled to neighbouring countries, such as Turkey and Jordan. In Lebanon alone, one in every five people is now a refugee from Syria. Those who remain in Syria rely on charities to provide their basic needs such as food, water and shelter. SKT Welfare is one of those charities at the forefront. We provide food for one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises of the decade.
The Al-Huda Bakery
As a result of the bombings in Syria, many bakeries and bread factories were destroyed. Bread is a staple diet in the region and critical to families in war-torn communities. Since the start of the war, bread prices have risen by up to 500% in some areas. This makes it unaffordable for many of the starving Syrians in the country.
SKT Welfare funds the Al-Huda Bakery in Idlib by supplying ingredients and capital needed to operate the bakery. One tonne of flour produces 1000 packages of bread. Each package of bread can feed the average Syrian family for one meal. The bakery distributes bread to hundreds of families within 7 local refugee camps daily. This benefits on average a staggering 10,500 people per day. In the capital city of Damascus, 1.2 million people have no access to bread. The Al-Huda Bakery is vital to improving the lives of these Syrians.
Fresh bread is fundamental to Syrian family life. It takes them a step closer towards normality and away from the atrocities of war.
The Date Project
To fund the bakery, SKT Welfare established the Date Project in 2015. The brilliant, passionate volunteers of SKT Welfare had an idea-raise funds for the Al-Huda Bakery in Syria by selling a box of the finest ethically-sourced medjoul dates for £10 during Ramadan. £3.50 provides ten packs of bread, with seven loaves in each pack. Volunteers from across the UK deliver the dates at no cost.
Via the Date Project, the bakery has:
- Benefitted 10 million individuals overall
- Produced and distributed 100,000 loaves in 2015
- Produced and distributed 3.5 million loaves in 2016
- Produced and distributed 3 million loaves in 2017
The ethically-sourced medjoul dates from the Jordan Valley were imported into the UK, and thousands of boxes were sold across the country. Dates are hugely popular during the month of fasting, as they are eaten at sunset to break the fast.
We hope for 2018 to be our most successful year to date so support our projects through the purchase of a box of ethically-sourced dates today and supporting the Al-Huda Bakery.
The Date Project Blog
The war in Syria has been raging for years, displacing 6.3 million Syrians who have fled across the world to find safety, shelter and food. This has been widely reported on the news, but what hasn’t been widely picked up on is that early on in the war, Syrian bakeries and bread factories were constantly being bombed. Bread forms the staple diet in the region, was highly sought after.
11 million Syrians live without basic amenities, and to help address this, charity SKT Welfare renovated an abandoned bakery in the North of Syria, with the aim of providing free loaves of bread to thousands of local Syrians, as well as to seven local refugee camps. The Al-Huda Bakery in Syria now provides bread to thousands across the country.
The Date Project
The charity needed to find a way to provide funds to the bakery to supply flour, yeast, salt, and fuel obtained through its supply channels, as well as maintenance and employee salaries needed to operate the bakery. One tonne of flour produces 1000 packages of bread, and each package of bread can suffice the average Syrian family for one meal.
So, The Date Project was established in 2015 by several inspirational, passionate SKT Welfare volunteers. They had an ingenious idea- raise funds for the Al-Huda Bakery in Syria by selling a box of the finest medjoul dates for £10 during Ramadan. Each box sold raised funds for an incredible fifty loaves of bread for a Syrian family.
Medjoul dates from the Jordan Valley were imported into the UK, and thousands of boxes were sold across the country, selling-out within weeks in the run-up to Ramadan. Dates are hugely popular during the month of fasting, as they are eaten at sunset to break the fast.
Volunteers from across the UK deliver the dates at no cost, with SKT Welfare helpers spanning from Southampton to Aberdeen.
To date, the bakery has benefitted an incredible 7.2 million individuals. In the first year of the project, 100,000 loaves of bread were distributed, and in 2016 a phenomenal 3.5 million loaves of bread were produced. We also expanded the market for the dates, and they became available in shops and Asian supermarkets across the UK.
Last year was our most ambitious and successful year to date. For Ramadan 2017, Palestine was added with a beautifully designed box in Palestinian colours being sold as the perfect gift nationwide. This project was aimed at helping support SKT Welfare’s water desalination plant in Palestine, with each box of dates sold enabling a Palestinian family to receive 500 litres of water. Through the help of our volunteers, over 3 million loaves of bread have been made and sold in Syria and over 22.5 million litres of water in Gaza.
The dates are now in the process of being packed into our gift tins by Syrian Refugees in Jordan. As well as providing those most in need of bread and water, it also helps with employment for Syrian Refugees.
Fresh bread is vital to Syrian family life, this bakery is not only providing bread; it is providing some employment, stability, and brings Syrians one small step closer to normality.
Our work wouldn’t be possible without our incredible, compassionate volunteers. Their unrelenting enthusiasm and hard work arising from their compassion towards humanity is what has propelled the charity’s fundraising efforts to such success, and allowed us to make a lasting impact on the many lives that their efforts touch.
We’re hoping 2018 will be our biggest and best year to date, and would like to thank every single one of our supporters for their work in helping to provide bread and water to those most in need.