Thatta Kedona

Culture is a Basic Need

Dolls Makers of TGD

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The cluster of mud and brick houses in the plains of Punjab, Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka (TGD) looks like a typical Pakistani village about 80 kilometers away from Lahore and 40 kilometers from Indus civilization ruins in Harappa. There is no gas or telephone in the village. No asphalt roads lead to it. Even the electricity is the recent phenomenon. Yet it is different, the beautiful dolls and other handicrafts made by the village women are collectors, delight all over the world. Influences from Indus civilization from near by Harappa and modern techniques brought by the German volunteers can be seen in the village together.

The dolls made in the village are on display in international doll museum in Iceland, prestigious galleries and showrooms in Pakistan and abroad. TGD village doll project was one of the 767 worldwide projects presented in the “Themepark” at expo 2000 in Hannover (Germany) as an example of thinking of twenty first century. Earlier, the dolls from Pakistan participated in international toy fair in Nuremberg. These dolls show how culture goes beyond simple work of art and becomes collaboration among applied and natural sciences as well as other forces that affect our lives.

How all this started? A Pakistan studying in Germany, Amjad Ali who is a native of village TGD invited his German teachers Dr. Senta Siller to visit his village back home. Dr. Senta Siller (and Dr. Norbert Pinstch) came to the village where she was presented a doll made by a local woman. She was impressed by the doll and liked the natural and simple village life. She decided to work for the village, established NGO Anjumane-e-Falah-e-Aama and started community based Woman Art center in TGD in 1992. The aim of this center is to involve local womenfolk in productive, creative and healthy income generating activities. She created awareness and built confidence among the women specially the young girls of the village and asked them to make dolls and toys on self-help biases that she is now marketing all over the world. The village and its residents are benefiting in the process.

Some people live and make difference in the lives of others. Born in 1935 in Vienna (Austria), Senta Siller took refuge in Germany following the Second World War. After graduating from school of arts in Berlin Senta Siller knew that she has found her métier in designing and illustrations. As a designer she worked form exhibitions, fairs, designing children cloths, toys and books illustration and also ran a textile company. She has done masters in Archaeology, Philosophy, Education and doctorate in the history of arts. Civil servant appointed for life she has been given different awards including “bundesverdienstkreuz”- the highest order of merit of Federal Republic of Germany as recognition of her dedicated services to humanity. She is a member of German Society for Advancement of Culture (DGFK). This year, she was nominated for Livelihood Achievement Award that is considered only second to Nobel Prize.

When women’s initiative groups read about Pakistani dolls in the newsletters of DGFK, they invited Dr. Senta Siller to start similar projects and to train women in doll and toy making in Cameroon and Colombia. She started her voluntary work to train multiplictors in both the countries in 1997. The expatriates booked dolls in advance and other support in marketing came form volunteering ladies of the German community in the respective capitals. Presently, Dr. Senta Siller is networking among the women activities in all these countries.

Dolls from Pakistan in authentic attires of the specific tribes, communities and areas tempt tourists and diplomats. They collect these dolls as a souvenir of the time hey spent in Pakistan. “During last seven years, the Pakistani dolls have traveled in suitcases of our client to 40 different countries. They (dolls) sit in the ambassadors’ residences not only in Islamabad, but accompany them to the next and second next posting. I have met TGD dolls in the Japanese ambassadors home in Jakarta and also in the German embassy in Damascus,” tells Dr. Senta Siller with pride and pleasure. “Part of the artists go where ever the dolls go,” says a young artist. Each doll has a small plate attached carrying the name of the doll maker.

Doll making is one of the oldest and popular fold art in Pakistan. Simple stuffed dolls are made for children particularly in rural areas where people are still striving fro the attainment of basic needs. The main difference of previous doll making and the modern techniques taught by Dr. Senta is that she has introduced variety in size and shapes and dresses them in colorful costumes with attentions to details. This has resulted in high quality soft toys to cater to demands of the gift market.

Dr. Senta has not only moved the women of area but also raised a spacious and simple building for the Women Art Center with the help of different donors. She even managed solar energy system -- probably the first in Punjab -- for the Center before the village was connected to national electric grid.

Now there are as many as 120 women from the age of 24 to 40 working in the center, making dolls dressed in regional (Punjabi, Sindhi, Pathan, Balochi, Kashmiri and Kalash) embroider costumes, miniatures, hand knitted shawls and many more items and earning their living. They are making their own lives better and strengthening their families. “They (the women) are moving towards true equality and independence “ says a doll maker who has twelve year of schooling married in this village and working in the Center Dr. Senta Siller is already planning to expand its working to neighboring villages.

Technical Transfer and Training Center (TTTC) for men has also been established in TGD under the supervision of another German volunteer project director Dr. Norbert Pinstch – an architect who is involved in the project since its inception. The men center has become meeting point of university professors and students who visit here regularly. TTTC is now concentrating on improved agricultural techniques and other suitable jobs for men. Norbert has experience with no less than 133 projects since 1976.

Village TGD is changing. The relative prosperity has beginning to show. Villagers are putting their children, particularly the girls in school. The Woman Art Center is also playing a part in the well being of the villagers. The Center has provided furniture and other equipment to the primary school in village and opened a well equipped health care center. An annual quality of life competition is held in the village when best houses are selected in three different categories.

Dolls made by village women in TGD are not only the most important products but are also our ambassadors. So much is happening in villages. Besides carpenters, blacksmiths and tailors in the village are profitably involved in production for the TTTC for men.

This seems to be one of the unique and best self help project any where in Pakistan.

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Ground to Map

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Rural Development


Ideas and Work on

Sustainable Rural Development in Punjab
Sustainable Development

Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs is sustainable. It contains within it two key concepts: the concept of "needs", in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and the future needs.

Ironically, term Sustainable Development is not understood in its true sense. It is being used to warn the society about short term and short sighted success only or to keep the priority of the status-quo or the economic-viability instead.

Basic Error
The development of the early industrialized nations paved the way for prosperity. That happened rather quickly and was successful in spite of the basic error; it was limited in scope to western civilizations alone. Increasing difficulties in creating the politico-economic relationship made it necessary to expand the system to more and more regions while passing the error to other regions. Result: in context of the complexity, speed and uniformity, more populous regions are at a disadvantage where poor people start believing that they are in competition for a better life.

Demography
Majority of population still lives in rural areas despite fast growing trend of urbanization. Dichotomy of the rural population is the contradiction between its humility to be able to cultivate and sustain their living independently on one side and the inferiority complex towards the urban population on the other, which is exploited by the urban people on the basis of so called improvements in their standards and quality of life. In fact, it is not the rural folks that needs the urbanites but it is other way round. Like developed countries need the developing countries. This is the subject for another intellectual discussion in itself.

Cultural Conflict
Life in cities has lead to basic changes in social structure; sizes of the family, behavior, needs and wants as well as lifestyle have changed over time. One knows about these irreversible changes only when it is too late to take corrective measures and revert back. In the meantime, basic errors keep multiplying with each problem speeding up the change. What is more, the short term success often hides the real problems.

The city cultures look towards modern time measures (more energy, wider roads, higher buildings and better education) to solve the problems. But industrially emphasized education is not in a position to address the basic issues and find independent answers for which multiplicity and time are important preconditions.

Any NGO in rural areas have to build up on the roots of traditional culture because that is where lie the strength, power and uniqueness of durable and comfortable existence instead of moving to urban areas only adding to chronic problems there.

Doll Village

Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka (TGD), internationally famous as the Doll Village, is a small hamlet in the backwaters of Punjab. Residents of the TGD lead simple rustic life. This in part is due to the location and tedious approach to the village. This shows that it is not infra structure which is helpful to a local NGO but the intentional separation from outer influences that allows NGO members and village community to grow together slowly.

The slow pace is expressed in the day to day and step by step developments of the NGO. That is why NGO Anjuman-e-Falah-e-e-Aama (AeFeA) stands in sharp contrast to the usual help methods and common NGO projects in which success is measured in quantities and industrial approach - concepts not suitable for the development in rural areas.

Villagers and NGO
The village life has always been characterized through limited social contacts in all the cultures. The tasks to be carried out have been regulated through centuries of conditioning. The NGOs established today, in contrast, are a result of developments of the early industrialized societies of the nineteenth century.

NGO work can be a success provided social infra-structure is available. This needs balance between too much and too little of the task distribution. Which is why the work of any NGO with an aim of generating additional income for rural folks should begin with a careful evaluation of capabilities of the villagers? For this one has to sacrifice luxury and be physically present in rural areas and still be satisfied.

Rhythm of Rural Life
Traditional values are a basic component of an NGO. There will be no identity of NGO members without basic values. Therefore no NGO can ignore the traditional rhythm of the rural lifestyle.

In this case, traditional handicraft capabilities of the villagers were evident to AeFeA to start with. The rustic folks who live in TGD have been making stuffed dolls, embroider textiles and thematic toys since ages. AeFeA recognized the indigenous talents and proceeded to develop using non-conventional methods, time and analytical capacity. The resultant success may not be compared with the success of an industrial concern though.

Coaches
The inclusion of foreign experts (coaches) and the possibility of participation by the local members are important for the accomplishment of results by any NGO project. External experts are useful as an outside influence and to have an opportunity to witness the effects of NGO work without becoming dependent on them. This lets honorary foreign experts to be accepted as the leader of the community within the community and be viewed as an embodiment of exceptional management qualities outside, which one may learn to a very limited extent at a university.

Singular Productions
NGO totally depending upon financing from outside can not be successful according to the “theory of NGO work”. The correct relationship between the ideal and the material is of paramount importance and like commercial venture money must be earned from the market through sale of products.

NGOs in rural areas can work together and share their resources. But they must have a philosophy of their own. Production has to be compatible with the rural culture to allow traditional field work and household occupations. It can not be rigid line 9 to 5 job. Work practices have to be highly flexible; working together or individually, working from home, work sharing.

Similarly, the delivery schedules of high quality and singular products also have to be flexible. Dead lines can only met by commercial organizations with heavy investments in machines and organizational channels. The often surfacing objection is to increase the production by including other villages. This shows the widely spread way of thinking. There are over ten thousand villages in Punjab alone and one cannot copy the idea blindly. Capabilities of each community need to be analyzed first.

Quality Control
NGOs create additional income by producing total quality controlled items in limited quantities. This is essential to satisfy customers within and outside the community and whole-sellers as well as to strengthen relationship with them. Given the small production quantities, only the quality and the uniqueness of the products can make it possible. The uniqueness can be reinforced through participation in notable events.

The success of one NGO shows the way to other NGOs, not fully aware of the concept, to copy the processes. But when NGOs start thinking in masses or copying others instead of creating their own specialties they actually act like industrial undertakings: producing inter-changeable products in large quantities. In the process, price levels destroy the small manufacturers who may start thinking that they too need to produce more to earn more. If the uniqueness and quality are maintained at a level, the products can remain attractive to the buyers and the additional income can be maintained indefinitely.

Learning on the Project
As opposed to cities, long-term free education is not possible in the rural areas unless yet another dependence is acceptable. The problems emerging from such an effort are covered up in cities because the consequences of an education for the sake of education do not appear to be recognized by the decision makers. A local NGO must therefore make each manufacturing project as a learning experience. This can only happen while producing in small portions, which is not known to urbanites, who are used to thinking in terms of quantity.

Activities Abroad
An NGO must establishment fine network home and abroad to maintain its permanence and to adjust to the given situation. NGO has to function like a company to do this, of course without mass production and sales channels. This should happen with smallest of staff (and avoiding “milking” by employees) and support from outside “coaches”.

Creating a soft network of cooperation at different levels in order to be independent of the money flow is also necessary. Effort should be made to work together with similar institutions locally and abroad.

Local and international outsourcing of parts in small quantities is also possible to manufacture economically. It is however important to keep in mind the basic idea of the NGO works notwithstanding the factors like level of education, harvest time and climatic differences. Participation in special festivals, museums, international exhibitions and bazaars and active presence in different countries is to be realized with a minimum of financial expense. The eyes should be kept open all the time, because business relationships are never long lasting! 

Networking

Talking of any cooperation, networking is a common magic word these days. Cooperation has a very long tradition but “networking” perhaps refers to keeping contact with each other via the Internet? In this case the city people are at an advantage unless competencies are clearly defined in a rural NGO where the payments cannot be realized as it can be done in cities. A lot of work is voluntary in case of NGOs, which members of city communities may not afford because of the high costs of living and the fast pace of life there.

The difference between smaller and a bigger organization can be best expressed in the words “Small Is Beautiful” by Schumacher, whereby a smaller venture has to be better than a larger organization. As one GM of an international concern said, “The large ones will not eat the smaller ones; rather the fast ones will eat the slow ones”. Here, the fast ones must act “wisely” and thereby more carefully.

Political and other Upheavals
NGOs in rural areas are directly effected by political upheavals in the country as well as abroad where they have sensitive business relationships. Change of governments, weapon tests, attacks on objects relating to other cultures, wars, terrorist acts and or riots have immediate effects on the NGOs. As opposed to private companies and public sector, NGOs not as flexible, hence they are more susceptible to negative effects.

Climate too has a big influence on life in rural areas. It becomes impossible to work in rural areas when temperature exceeds average values whereas city dwellers have ready solutions for improvement, which may be unrealistic when seen in context. NGOs should continue income generation uninterrupted otherwise they are destined to fail. The beneficiaries start asking themselves when the financial help is forthcoming when money flow stops due to any reason.

Cameroon, Colombia, Dubai

Anjuman-e-Falah-e-Aama has received invitations for sale of products from a number of countries. This is good case of effective use of modern media by small organizations. With the help of information on the Internet, various initiatives of women’s groups could be supported and similar initiatives became possible in Cameroon (in 1998) and in
Columbia (in 1999).

These organizations work in similar manner, are located more or less in rural areas, and their members are differently educated and living in completely diverse cultures. As such factors cannot be measured statistically so they are totally overlooked by industrial concerns as if they are not there.


Each women group in Pakistan, Cameroon or Columbia manufactures its dolls and handicrafts separately. The mother project functions as supplier of raw dolls, where raw dolls could be manufactured but a higher cost, which would make the product more expensive for the buyers. This is also true for others projects in Greece, Iceland and
Germany.

Independence - Whys and Hows?
Independence is gladly propagated but is not possible as such, especially to larger extents. It may only be possible in small units, the price of which is a special type of dependence, provided there is a constant vigilance and continuous review of the basic values.

Alternatives
The development of NGO projects in rural areas with a vision to generate additional income in certain regions through handicrafts is a real challenge. Given the globalization euphoria, driven by city elits and strengthened by the people migrateing from rural into urban areas who are prone to fall easy prey to the propaganda of the virtues of automation and appropriate advertising, it becomes more difficult task. But it is all the more important to show alternatives when every one is running in the same direction.

The whole world seems to be moving in one direction. The prevailing system must collaborate, which eludes the participants, who can only judge it from a distance.

Without entering into discussion about economical, social and political tendencies, the results must lead us to describe the inefficiency of the growth-oriented economy to adjust to changes.This points out to the necessity of a behavior which needs to be corrected. Even if the change can hardly be expected from the urban world, the necessity of this change must be pointed through change in the work methods.

Choices
Human navigation system is based on the orientation towards opposites. This is how the difference between small and big, dark and light, hot and cold becomes natural to humans.

Either and or are two opposite poles with no room in between. This type of challenges may be necessary for the purpose of orientation but does not correspond to the reality in human dealings. Nature did not develop itself in this categorical way nor with such speed and without examination of the surrounding situation.

The choice should be therefore more like ‘as well as’ instead of the either and or in order to see the complexity of questions.

Notes:

1. The author has used a number of sources and information collected from colleagues for better understanding, which has not necessarily been indicated.

2. Central idea of this book is from Prof. Dr. Norbert Pintsch, translation by Aamir Rafique, Layout by Anees Yaqub.

3. The author appreciates the assistance of the Institute for Planning and Consulting as well as German Society for the Advancement of Culture.

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The Indus Heritage


The ‘Art and Craft Village’, taking place in Islamabad is a joint project of Capital Development Authority (CDA) and Indus Heritage Trust (IHT) a vision that celebrates and showcases the rich cultural heritage of Pakistan. – AFP Photo Series

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Save Our Heritage

I saw many objects of love being prepared at numerous workshops that litter this part of our country {Hala}. Usually, the crafts were being either produced in a run-down plot, called the artist place, or it was being practised under open skies, open doors, and no frills. That’s the classic old-style way of doing things. People, passing by, would look — almost gawk — at the visitors, who are rare.

In fact, at most places we were the only visitors, and as soon as we would enter the artist’s domain, deep in his craft, he would raise his head, salute, smile and continue with his work. Some more business-like would stop altogether, shake hands and would start detailing the process — if asked — or else the qualities of the craft; where it came from, how long it has been here, who are the pioneers, and why this craft is now vanishing. Every time they would tell me the reason why their craft was vanishing I felt like a party to it all. After all, we, as a nation, spend millions on items bought from abroad; we like to fill our rooms with ‘Made in Europe’ items and loose out on Made in Pakistan. They would then look at me with eyes filled with anticipation, thinking that I might buy one ajrak, one stunning, blue bowl, or place an order for tiles for home; I did none of that and felt ashamed. It was one of those sad days when I had felt a party to a crime.

As one Pakistani scientist, now in Canada, reminded me, that just writing articles won’t help save our heritage much. It will take a lot of genuine effort, lot of Pakistani nationals and a lot of money, I would say, to save them from complete collapse. Already, once a booming industry, now in patch works, ‘ajrak’, the oldest patterned chador in production in this country, is fighting for survival. {Dawn}
Tags: Heritage, Arts, Pakistan

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Gogera Fort

A road bifurcates towards north from Gogera Sadar town and leads to village Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka (TGD) in the backwaters of the Punjab. The village has become famous all over the world for dolls and toys made here by village folks. Volunteers from German NGO DGFK are working in this village since 1992. Aside from locals, large numbers of foreigners interested in rural culture, social work and poverty alleviation, and experts in different fields of human activities come to this village and pass by the grand building of Gogera Fort. Community based local NGO Anjuman-e-Fala-e-Aama is working in cooperation with DGFK under direct supervision of two full time volunteers Dr Senta Siller and Dr Norbert Pintsch.

The idea of the conservation of the Gogera Fort and turning into a monument not only for the foreigners who frequent this area but also for next generations has become one of the active concerns of the NGO. Norbert Pintsch, Volunteer Project Director Technology Transfer and Training Center for Men in TGD, an Architect by profession and social worker by choice is taking keen personal interest in this project.

Related: Gogera Report, Gogesra insights  

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Art That Wins Hearts

By Shaharezade Samiuddin

Familiarity can make us blind to the obvious. Veering treacherously to one side, dangerously overloaded and bustling along in all its dazzling finery, perhaps the most obvious thing that we fail to spot on our roads, except when one arm-wrestles past us, is the minibus. The other times you may pay more congenial attention to the phenomena is when you end up behind one and muse, and then amuse yourself with the heart wrenching emotions contained in the poetry on the back.

Boasting its own set of aesthetics, often featuring a cross between vibrantly speckled peacocks and outlandish Garuda birds, dramatic poetry, wise sayings, intricate filigree, and a child’s shoe (next time you’re close to a minibus look for this one, it’s there for good luck!), vehicle decoration, such as those we see on our roads today, has been entrenched in the local culture for centuries.

In the past traditional transport, such as horses and camels, has long been adorned partially because of a love for colour and splendour, partially in veneration of one’s vocation and partially to outshine the competition. The tradition transposed to buses, trucks and rickshaws when public transport came into the hands of the working classes. Thus the first buses that truly livened up our roads were those decorated by court painters who had migrated from Bhuj in Gujrat. This outstanding example of pop art, painstakingly created with repousse stainless steel, acrylic plastic and reflective tape (trucks and minibuses are fertile ground for artistic experimentation with continually evolving material) that swathes the regular minibus has just never garnered much attention.that is, from the right quarters. Rather ironic, considering that the décor of the over decorated ‘bride of the streets’ is blatantly begging for a second glance.

It was certainly more than just a second take that Pakistani truck and bus art garnered when it landed on a tram in Australia just in time for the Festival Melbourne 2006, the cultural festival of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games. Coordinated by Wajid Ali Arain, a visual artist and graduate of Karachi University’s Department of Visual Studies and executed by four chamak patti wala vehicle decorators Nusrat Iqbal, Muhammad Arshad, Muhammad Nadeem, and Safdar Ali from Allahwali who decorate the most adorned buses that ply Karachi’s longest route, the W11. The W11: Karachi to Melbourne project struck a chord with the Aussies from the word go.

Featuring a Melbourne tram plastered painstakingly with chamak patti and lighting by Iqbal and his team (who were flown to Australia for the project), this desi-style pop-art on wheels ran the streets of Melbourne to the beat of Noor Jehan’s Punjabi songs with the words, ‘Love is Life,’ candidly adorning its sides. The chamak patti tram carried more than 80,000 passengers over 12 days and won more hearts than any official drive — boasting tame fashion shows — to fashion a soft image for the country. Proclaiming its message of Love is Life, the tram traversed Melbourne’s City Circle route 120 times. On popular demand the tram continued to run once a week.

The desi-style pop-art on wheels ran the streets of Melbourne to the beat of Noor Jehan’s Punjabi songs with the words, ‘Love is Life,’ candidly adorning its sides. At the VM Art Gallery scenes from the project were displayed in the exhibition titled, ‘The W11: Karachi to Melbourne’.

At the VM Art Gallery scenes from the project are displayed in the The W11: Karachi to Melbourne exhibition. The video footage and the display of photographs taken by Wajid Ali and Kirsten Trist, a lecturer at the RMIT University in Melbourne keenly capture the capturing of Australian hearts. Scenes of exuberance and flamboyant dancing that celebrate this art on wheels have been frozen on film and mounted, befittingly with intricate chamak patti trim. Of the two films running at the exhibition one depicts the laborious making of the ‘chamak patti’ tram and the opening of the project while the other captures passenger reactions interspersed with traditional bus-style quirky verses inscribed on fate cards. By providing a vehicle (literally) to bridge barriers, reassess stereotypes at both ends and to have some fun in the process, the W11 Karachi to Melbourne tackled a host of diverse goals with one throw. That was the obvious outcome of the venture.

Less obvious was the revelation that seldom has a relationship building exercise, artistic or otherwise, had such a buoyant and cheery impact. Little about Pakistan, (including fashion shows) is associated with buoyancy and cheeriness. Indeed seldom has a more honest face of the country, gone into building its image. As it glowed with energy while plying the tracks of Melbourne, Karachi’s W11 grabbed goodwill by the tramload, not only because it radiated its message of love and peace, but also because it calmly asserted that we are like this only.

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World of Puppets

Like Pinocchio, the Moksha Puppets turn into humans, but not to enjoy life as the famous puppet hero did; rather to escape the oppression of the theatre owner and win freedom.

Actors Farouk Floukas, Ahmed Nabil, Faiza Kamal, Ali Hassanein and Samir Hosni share the puppet's dilemma, since the production is still waiting to get off the ground. Written by Hamdi Attiya and directed by Yehia Zakaria, the puppet series has Ashraf Abdel-Baqi as its assistant director and also playing the role of Said Kanish, a superficial artist.

Abdel-Baqi, who came home to Egypt last year after living in Russia for a quarter of a century, is no stranger to the puppet world. His late mother Naglaa Raafat designed and directed 20 puppet theatre plays, of which Abu Ali, Al-Shater Hassan, Cinderella, and Dabdoub Al-Kaslan are the most famous. His father is the poet Samir Abdel-Baqi who has written several plays and stories for children.
Read at Al-Ahram

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Thatta Kedona Dolls in Dubai Village

A possibility for the participation of a Pakistani NGO at the Global Village of the Dubai Shopping Festival for exhibiting and offering its outstanding handicrafts products emerged in 2000 on the invitation of the consulate general of Pakistan in Dubai.

The first participation in the fair followed in 2001 and was quite successful right from the start, -reports of the local media also confirmed the success of advertising and media attention.

The stand in the Pakistan Pavilion through the courtesy of the Pakistani commercial counselor however required careful organization, transport, resolution of visa matters and schooling of the the village NGO staff as well as locating cheap accommodation in Dubai.

Two young women as well young men from the village NGO have participated in the festival up till now. A German volunteer was also found as a temporary arrangement to bridge the staff requirement at the stand. Additionally, we also succeeded in winning a permanent customer for the products at this temporary forum so that it became possible to sell the products over the whole year.

An Arabic pair of dolls was specially developed by the Pakistani NGO for the Arabian market, which can be purchased on the spot as well as orders cab also be placed. Local volunteers are also helpful in the order processing and they have also participated in village project in Pakistan.

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Doll Makers' Fourth Summer Acedemy

Thatta Kedona Annual Summer Acedemy was held in Karimabad. Alexandra Scherer - volunteer teacher from Germany trained 5 TGD women from Women Art Center, Basic Health Unit and Cultural Complex in English language and basic techniques (reading, writing, calculation).

Since first summer academy held under the supervision of volunteer teacher Jane Carew Reid in Karimabad in 2002, annual summer academy has been one of the regular training features for the workers of Women Art Center. Basic Health Unit, Cultural Complex. Village women are successfully working and learning in WAC since 1993 where dedicated volunteers come and teach. This year following women are attending the summer camp:


  • Shafi Akbar Ali
  • Khanam Shahdad Ali
  • Mehraj Mian Khan
  • Rani Mir Mohammed
  • Mafi Allah Jafar
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New Designs of Thatta Kedona

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With love from Kalash

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Volunteer in WAC Tailor Workshop


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Solar Oven


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Better choices

Abstract from paper by Professor Norbert Pintsch (Institute for Planning and Consulting, Germany-USA). Paper was presented in Second International COMSAT Conference on Environmentally Sustainable Development that was held in Abbotabad from Aug 26-27, 2007.

This article discusses the basic concept of sustainability and its dependencies in cultural contexts. This corelation has hardly been considered from the technology oriented side and lesser and lesser in general scientific circles. This is by no means a sign of superiority but more a sign of philosophical poverty and one sidedness, which is contra-productive, without the concerned and interested parties being even aware of it. The following contribution compares the concept of Vertical Sustainability to the Horizontal Sustainability, while making it clear that the latter is not suitable for income generating measures in urban areas.

The scientific community agrees that the Earth’s climate is changing and severe impacts are inevitable. Global warming leads to the melting of both Artic and Antarctic polar ice sheets. Such melting is bound to change the ecological conditions and may cause a break in food chain of living organisms. Under the prevailing conditions, the scientific community of the twenty-first century both anticipates and fears the challenges that are presented. Humanity has reached a “defining moment” in our dominion over the planet and our ability to sustain or destroy it depends on our forthcoming behaviour and actions.

As custodians of our planet we should do more to counter the dangers posed by climate change, “destroying” the biosphere. Achieving environmental sustainability requires managing and protecting ecosystems, maintaining the diversity of life in both human- managed and natural systems and protecting the environment from pollution to maintain the quality of land, air and water.

The ESDev-2007 Conference has brought together hundreds of professionals from academia, industries, local enterprises and agencies to translate ideas, success stories, case histories, current trends, and technologies into solutions for environmental protection and enhancement. The proceedings hold about 150 technical and research papers and review articles covering almost every aspect related to environment. Over 70 papers were presented in two parallel sessions and the remaining papers were displayed in poster form. The papers presented at ESDev-2007 cover topics related to local, regional and global environmental and development issues. These topics are merged into eight main themes and each section of the proceedings is marked with the title of the topics. The content pages and the author index in all volumes are identical. The author index includes the co-authors as well.

The number of themes and unequal distribution of the papers under these themes represents particularly the academic response to the call for papers. Issues of local concern and expertise are particularly well represented. Perhaps in future years it would be appropriate to encourage participation from a wider environmental perspective.

The ESDev-2007 Conference has initiated a dialogue among all the stakeholders in an area of immense importance which must result in specific actions, to craft suitable policies and to take the necessary action to protect and sustain the environment. We hope research papers and technical work presented in the ESDev-2007 proceedings will evoke interest and subsequent discussion and practical implementation not only by the delegate attending the conference, but also by others involved in environment related activities like research and teaching institutions, NGOs and individuals working in private and public sector.

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posted by Omar M. Ali @ 9:51 AM, , links to this post

Dolly Good

Husain Qazi

SAJ Shirazi's article Dolly good (appeared in Dawn) opened up a basket of sweet memories and took me back in year 2000 when someone told me about a doll village apparently belonging to the fairyland. So strong was the impact of narration that I was soon in that village which was surely more than my expectations, a classic example of a dream coming true by vision, determination and action.
Dr Sahiba’s visualization of tapping the potential of village girls for making soft toys came true in just a year and the dolls of Thatta (near Gogera, Southern Punjab) were being sold in the European market which -besides the apparent financial gain, provided confidence -particularly for the women folk of the village and sparked a quest for sustainable development, which continues unabated ....

The village farmers were trained in modern agri methods resulting in immense growth of agriculture, health and sanitation standards improved, the village school was revamped, massive tree plantation was carried out, a vocational centre was established for the training and skill development of village folks and of course the dolls and a host of other crafts are being produced and sold in and out of the country.

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posted by Omar M. Ali @ 9:26 AM, , links to this post

Rajasthan Art

By F.I.

"Handicraft is one of the most important aspects of Rajasthan’s life. People have been involved in hand-made crafts for ages which are now being modified by the new generation with the help of contemporary designs to make the products competitive in the market,” said Amita Gupta, founder member of Routes 2 Roots, an NGO which organised a festival in Karachi, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) as part of the initiatives to bring together people, cultures and values across Saarc countries, reports F.I.


Popularly known as the ‘treasure trove of Indian handicrafts’ and ‘shoppers paradise’, Rajasthan, one of the most fascinating lands of India, has been able to preserve its craft over the centuries. In fact, unique in colour and workmanship, Rajasthani art is an institution in its own right.

Recently, Karachiites were given an opportunity to enjoy the culture and cuisine of Rajasthan. A five-day-long festival, which was organised at a local hotel, was the first of its kind in the country. A team of 22 people, including musicians, chefs and artisans from India, participated in the event which also showcased performances by traditional Kalbelia dancers.


A part of this festival was a handicraft exhibition. The items on display included enameled jewellery and jewellery boxes embellished with semi-precious stones, glass bangles, embroidered dresses, saris, quilts, purses, handbags, bedsheets, decoration pieces and handloom fabric called kota doria.

“Handicraft is one of the most important aspects of Rajasthan’s life. People have been involved in hand-made crafts for ages which are now being modified by the new generation with the help of contemporary designs to make the products competitive in the market,” said Amita Gupta, founder member of Routes 2 Roots, an NGO which organised the festival in collaboration with the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) as part of the initiatives to bring together people, cultures and values across Saarc countries.

Though on a steep side, the handicraft with intricate designs intrigued many who took time to inquire about the techniques used in making the striking jewellery and kota doria fabric, two popular features of the handicrafts from Rajasthan.

“The enamellers of Jaipur design the best pendants, necklaces, anklets, naths and even spoons, knives, key chains and cufflinks. One of the best known Jaipur enamellers was my father who made a small elephant of gold which was exhibited at many art exhibitions in various parts of the country,’ said Deepak Sankit, who won the National Merit Award for Enamelled Gold Jewellery in India.

About the process of enameling a product, the visitors were told that once gold is given the required shape, it is covered with a sealing wax. The ornament is then scratched on with a pointed instrument and the required designs are carved on it. The designs are usually images of birds, flowers and even landscapes. After the designs are made, the enamel dust or powder of different coloured glasses is put into the cavities. The ornament is placed in a hot furnace; the enamel melts and diffuses proportionately into the cavities. It is then taken out and burnished with a wet stone. The process is repeated until the required polish is attained. Sometimes it takes months to finish one piece of jewellery.


Women took special interest in kota doria. Skillfully made of cotton and silk yarn in different combinations, kota doria is transparent and its beauty is further enhanced by batik and block printing, embroidery, cutwork and tie and dye techniques. Among the decorative items, metal carved doors, a pair of silver hookah, wooden chairs and paintings on handcrafted pieces of marble with old polish and modern day colours were marvellous.


“This was an overwhelming experience. We are extremely impressed by the hospitality of the Pakistanis. Yesterday, I received a call from Hyderabad and was requested to hold a similar festival there. We are looking forward to organising more such programmes that can bring people of the two countries together,” said Tina Vachani, one of the organisers.

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posted by Omar M. Ali @ 1:22 PM, , links to this post


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