Insan Dost Association – Bremen Peace Award winner 2013 from Pakistan

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Sheba Wiafe

A lot has happened since the Insan Dost Association has received the Bremer Peace Award. Imran Anjum, the finance officer of Insan Dost Association, came to Germany and we discussed what has changed.

The Insan Dost Association operates in Punjab, Pakistan. In 1986 it was funded by Anjum Raza Mattu. Since then the association has been actively fighting for brick-kiln workers and supported their labor unions. Because of their relentless effort to empower the people the Insan Dost Association won the Bremer Peace Award in 2013.

Over the years the association has expanded. From one head office in Sahiwal to one head office and three field offices in Islamabad, Lahore and Multan. All in all they employ 21 workers and 40 volunteers. Now they can reach out to 15 out of 36 districts in Punjab.

After 2013 the Insan Dost Association changed their approach. Before their tactic was to pressure the brick-factory owners and the government to take action on issues like social security cards and minimum wages. They pressured them mostly by raising awareness with demonstrations and petition. But as Imran Anjum told us, if you operate that way it may have an effect but not in the long run. So they decided to cooperate with the brick factory owners and the government to have a lasting effect.

The brick-kiln workers generally do not have a social security card, which means when they are sick, they can’t get themselves help and when they are old they won’t get any pensions. Having the new approach in mind, the Insan Dost Association offered the brick-factory owner to pay the costs of the social security card the first three months if they continue the payment after the three month period.

But the Insan Dost Association is doing much more as well. The government doesn't spend enough money on health care and education. That’s the reason why the educations comes short for a lot of young children from brick-kiln workers. The Association has taken measures against it, by financing uniforms and schoolbags and sending thousands of children to public schools.

The Bremer Peace Award itself has helped the Insan Dost Association to get access to international funds and raised locally the awareness of their work.