Changing lives

Zainab Mahmood Ahmad looks into the Aman Foundation's aim to champion dignity and choice for the underserved

Changing lives
The idea for Aman Foundation took root in the confines of a suburban drawing room in 2008. Blooming to fruition in the hands of Arif Naqvi, an internationally recognized investment and private equity specialist, it now stands tall on a 5 acre stretch of land.

100 million dollars were seeded in by Mr Naqvi and family to kick-start Aman foundation’s foray into the two main problem areas in Pakistan – health and education. The idea was to establish several entities under one banner with one common goal - to “champion dignity and choice for the underserved”.

Each division of the foundation operates independently, headed by a chairman, supported by a team of dedicated professionals and fosters partnerships with local (private/government) and international entities to facilitate financial as well as logistical longevity.
The foundation's achievements are measured by one yardstick alone: impact

Tele-health call centre: It runs 24/7, 365 days a year and is the first of its kind in Pakistan. By dialing 9123 customers are connected to trained professionals who can provide basic medical advice, preliminary diagnoses, prescribe over the counter medications, as well as recommend specialists using a directory of 2200 medical institutes and 15000 doctors in Karachi.

Community health workers: Local residents trained as health workers, serve a population of 100,000     people in Ibrahim Hyderi, by making monthly home visits to distribute free medicines and advice on issues related to general health, family planning, maternity, children and women’s health. Tele-booths have also been setup throughout the locality in order to provide direct access to tele-health operators.

Mental health: In cooperation with Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and AKU, SUKH, headed by the reputable Dr Sadiq Qureishi conducts seminars, focus group studies and comprehensive research in the field of mental health, to better understand the nature and frequency of psychological ailments afflicting the city’s residents, in order to provide viable solutions.

Aman ambulance: Operating a fleet of 100 ambulances and 700 medical professionals including ambulance drivers who are trained paramedics, Aman deals with more than 40% of the daily medical emergencies (approximately 800) in Karachi. There are 3 tiers of services provided:  a life support system and paramedics for basic emergencies, specialist doctors on board for advanced life-care needs and state of the art life support systems for severe cardiac and life threatening emergencies. Behind the scenes at the call centre, trained staff ascertains the nature of the emergency and dispatch the appropriate nearest vehicle, whilst providing medical advice during the interim period. Aman ambulances have an average response time of 8 minutes and have thus far undertaken 500,000 interventions.

Aman health insurance: It devises a plan for each member of a household, facilitating regular visits from health professionals and maintenance of a database of complaints and prescriptions. An app is also being developed which will store and provide immediate access to each members medical information in one place, but also provides a button to send out an emergency call along with location and past history.

Amanghar: It seeks to address the most basic of human needs - food. At present 4000 students are fed daily throughout TCF (the citizens foundation) and several government schools in Khuda ki Basti, Karachi. The meals are designed by an AKU nutritionist with monitored calorie counts in order to provide nutritious meals not only to students but to all Aman foundation divisions. In partnership with K&N and National Foods Limited they have served in excess of 3 million meals to date.

Aman sports: Collaborating with Moin Khan Foundation, cricket academies have been setup in North Karachi and Mangopir where students are coached by veteran Test cricketers. Most impressively, the captain of the foundation’s cricket team which represents them in national championships is a talented young woman. Coaches trained at the Real Madrid foundation in Spain, are the backbone of the football academy that mentor the school teams that compete at national and international events. There is also an athletics department under the patronage of Naseem Hameed as head instructor, which boasts an enrollment of 900 girls and 700 boys.

Aman tech: It is the foundation’s most physically impressive program housed in a custom built environment with state of the art classrooms equipped with technology and specialist instructors. Currently a total of 3500 students in morning afternoon and evening shifts receive training in a variety of trade related disciplines including plumbing, carpentry, air-conditioners and refrigeration, welding, masonry, mechanical, electrical and automobiles.

Each student is provided with an extensive array of materials, machinery, tools, safety gear, simulation models and technical training as well as ‘soft skills’ such as hygiene and presentation, dress codes and etiquettes of social and professional behaviour such as front-desk attitudes, spoken and written English as well as computer skills. The students, ranging in age from 19-40 years, are required to sit for the UK City and Guilds certification examination at the end of the program. Thus far 70% of the students who completed the courses have been successfully placed locally as well as abroad in their relevant fields. Amantech also works in partnership with Indus Motors, who have setup a Toyota body-painting and repair workshop within Aman tech premises, as well as the German government and multinationals such as Siemens, Lufthansa and Mercedes Benz and Younus textiles, who provide employment opportunities for all graduates.

Teach for Pakistan: Graduates from universities such as LUMS, IBA, DOW, NED are inducted through nation-wide drives, so that knowledgeable and passionate people are brought in to teach the students who need them the most. Salaries are paid at competitive market rates and a 6 week certified teacher training is also provided.

In the past, Aman foundation has also provided grants and assistance in excess of 29 million dollars to ventures such as HUB school projects, PAL lifeguards, LRBT, CERP, Acumen Fund, Injaz-al-Arab, Harvard VAI (connecting students with Harvard University professors, currently housed in the Aman CD building in IBA), i-Care, to build upon their resources and reach their potential.

Taking on the mammoth task of addressing the health and education needs of a single metropolis in Pakistan, Aman foundation hopes to see its initiative grow and replicate itself across the country. They are also working towards multiplying the number of enrolled students as well as the trades currently taught at Aman tech and most importantly to establish a women-oriented trade school and hostel, helping to widen their options in the work force across the country.

Under the current leadership of CEO Ahsan Jamil, Aman foundation prides itself on its transparency, as donors can see where their funds are being used such as towards payment of teachers and community health workers and medical professionals salaries, procurement of ingredients to prepare daily meals, student fees and materials for schools, sports programs and Aman tech, sponsoring ambulances, procuring medicines and medical equipments, to name a few.

The foundation’s achievements are measured by one yardstick alone - impact. And to achieve it, they engage society at large through volunteer opportunities, internships, contractual commitments with teachers and trainees/coaches. The foundation also hopes to establish a chain of primary health care clinics across all regions of Karachi to cater to the mental and physical health needs of a population of 20 million comprising of 60 plus ethnic groups, as well as establish an Aman School of sports with a wider variety of programs and explore avenues to promote performing arts and culture.