Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) celebrated the successes of its beneficiaries by launching their digital testimonials at BISP headquarters. The event titled Heroes of BISP was organised to provide an insight into the achievements of BISP beneficiaries in different fields of life, who had brought significant changes to their lives despite being vulnerable and economically weak. The event was attended by World Bank Country Director Patchamuthu Illango, International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Resident Representative for Pakistan Terresa Dabansanche and Department For International Development (DFID) Pakistan Economic Growth Unit Head Patricia Seex along with members of civil society and BISP beneficiaries. BISP Secretary Umar Hamid Khan welcomed the guests on screening of success stories of BISP beneficiaries. He termed the beneficiaries as wonderful women and announced that BISP stipend has been increased to Rs 5,000 from Rs 4,834. He urged BISP beneficiaries that they should not accept less than Rs 5,000 and should not pay any intermediary. Umar Hamid Khan said that BISP plans to enhance the Wasila-e-Talim programme from primary education to secondary, tertiary and higher education, which will allow children of BISP beneficiaries to carry on their studies until highest levels. He added that the components of nutrition and health are being piloted in Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT) programme for further incorporation in BISP’s CCT model. The video testimonials of BISP’s heroes were screened at the event. One success story each from six regions of Pakistan was screened which included Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh. The stories included initiation of small business activity; supporting children for education and handling financial matters of the family by BISP beneficiaries. Each short video showcased the story of a hero through digital platform. These digital testimonials became expression of these heroes who have shown valour, courage and strength to fight all odds. Patchamuthu Illango termed the stories emotional and moving. He added that it brought hope and inspiration as he saw these few stories which showed the impact of BISP’s stipend. He further said, “BISP has been a great driver of socio-economic empowerment of women in Pakistan. We stand in support of our sisters.” IMF Resident Representative Terresa Dabansanche felt humbled to see these amazing stories of successes of BISP beneficiaries. She said, “We have always supported BISP and we believe that it is a great programme.” She added that the support of IMF will continue for BISP beneficiaries in different forms, including advocacy. She informed the beneficiaries, “We are on your side.” DFID Representative Patricia Seex also felt inspired by the powerful stories of BISP beneficiaries. She said, “BISP is a great example which shows that together we can make a huge difference in the lives of women.” She also quoted an impact evaluation which stated that three quarters of BISP beneficiaries decided how to use their money that they receive as BISP stipend. A short musical performance was given by one of the BISP beneficiary who sang a traditional song and played dholak, a local instrument to entertain the audience. At the conclusion, souvenirs were distributed amongst the heroes of BISP, the beneficiaries who utilised the BISP stipend to make significant changes to their lives with limited and meager resources. Published in Daily Times, October 10th 2018.