Thatta Kedona

Culture is a Basic Need

Future lies in rural areas

“Future lies in rural areas,” Dr. Norbert Pintsch


Human beings like other organisms, have always polluted their environment with the byproducts of their action. As an organism man creates waste. As a social creature, he removes things from his environment and adds residue to it. So long as population density has been low on the planet, the environment was able to accommodate these alterations. Now with the world population about 8.5 billion people and increasing by 220,000 each day, the concentration of population in cities and resulting deterioration of environment is sounding alarms. The situation is urban Pakistan is worst.

The process of economic development over last 58 years has brought number of changes. One of the most critical dimensions of the process is urbanization of rural society. As the development has taken place primarily from agricultural to industrial economy, large scale rural to urban migration has taken place, changing the face of our cities as well as villages. The concentration of more and more people into urban areas is regarded as one of the major environmental threat today. The process is expected to escalate in Pakistan though many of our cities have already reached the point where further population concentration (by natural birth or migration) may jeopardize the delivery of basic civic services to all.

Urbanization process has effected all parts of country: villages, towns and cities in one-way or the other. The intensity of impact is most critical in the larger cities. Karachi, Lahore, Faislabad, Gujranwala, Multan, Rawalpindi, Hyderabad, Sarghoda, Gujrat  and Peshawar are suffering from environmental degradation and quantifiable deficiencies in basic civic services. The civic bodies are badly failing to manage these problems.

Solid waste management has become one of the serious urban nightmares in Pakistan. The municipalities equipped with centuries old and outdated methods inefficiently lift only 60 percent of the municipal waste generated in our cities. In the absence of professionalism and proper waste disposal systems, most of the garbage lifted from the cities is crudely dumped in open spaces nearby. These dumps attract mosquitoes, rats, cockroaches, houseflies, ticks flees as well as stray dogs and birds like vultures and crows. Carried by the vectors, bacterium thriving in rotten and moist garbage is spreading all sorts of diseases. Other 40 percent waste is simply not picked up and keeps rotting in streets or illegal filth depots inside the cities. As the society prospers, its trash -- mainly hazardous plastic, metals packaging and pathogenic non-biodegradable rubbish -- is growing exponentially.

Karachi the mega city with population estimated over 11 millions, alone is generating 6000 tons of waster per day. Solid waste management department of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation is trying to keep the city clean with fleet of vehicles and an army of sweepers in its roll. Result: “The effects of environmental degradation due to the waste left inside Karachi are slowly poisoning the city”, notes an epidemiologist.

Sewerage systems only in portions of the cities are crumbling. Apart from being old they were basically designed for lesser population without catering for the future growth. Remaining population depends for waste disposal on septic tanks, soak pits or over flows into open drain. As a result of improper disposal of human waste (in many areas there is no disposal) from the housing environment a large number of children are suffering from or are vulnerable to the attacks of different diseases. The effluents from industrial units and tanneries working unchecked in the residential areas -- with high concentration of pollutants are adding to the problems. Kasur, Multan and Sialkot are typical examples of the case in point.

One major problems of urbanization in Pakistan is the eating up of green and open spaces -- so important for ecological balance -- by concrete structures of ever expanding cities. Only 25 years back Lahore and Faislabad had several patches of agricultural land. Today, there is no arable land with in the limits of these cities. In Peshawar 2700 hectares of agricultural land were lost between 1965 and 1985. Multan had many mango orchards (Ram jis Bagh, Abidanwalla Bagh, Qasim Bagh, Langhe Khan Bagh, Hazori Bagh, Dewanwalla Bagh and Mirza Jan Bagh) inside the city. They all have been converted into plazas and industrial units. There is no open space in cities as small as Mandi Baha Ud Din that was declared district headquarters only in 1993.

The fresh water supply in our cities is dwindling as the cities are expanding. Access to the clean water is available to about 77 percent of the urban population. Only 30 percent have the luxury of piped water supply and the rest are being served by stand posts or public taps. Per capita water consumption in urban areas in bare minimum to sustain human life. Even the (finite) subsoil water reserves are decreasing due to high pumping rate. In most of the cities water pipe lines run next to the sewer lines there for, contaminating the drinking water.

Air governs the quality of our environment. The air in our cities is so polluted that it can be smelled and seen everywhere. When the wind is still, the fumes of vehicles, industrial concerns, smoke from garbage piles put of fire as well as airborne particles to dirt and pollen can be seen hung about any city. Only in Lahore 800,000 vehicles are responsible (apart form the noise pollution) for contaminating the environment by emitting poisonous gasses. Breathing has become a health hazard in soot-choked cities like Gujranwala where tar coal drums, electric wires and old tyres are burnt inside the residential areas in order to separate the iron.

There is an acute shortage of houses in the cities and the real estate prices are skyrocketing. The demand for the land is growing and the supply is limited. Since the land is essential for urban growth, devising equitable and efficient land development policies is one of the major challenges facing planners and policy makers, who do not seem to be aware of the seriousness of the problem. The number of slum and katchi abadi dwellers is on the increase.

In the typical city street, the road is potholed by PTCL or WASA excavations, electric generators and transformers carry a dangerous web of cable overhead. Shops encroach onto the roadways. Vendors have covered the open drains and advertisements and ugly looking neon signs are covering every available surface.

Historic buildings disappear without regret and even the protected monuments are suffering from vandalism. The roads are full of illegal speed breakers, all different in sizes and shapes. The old trees are being cut without a second thought. There is no body to oversee the overall growth of cities and to coordinate the work of city development agencies.

It is ideal if the human beings are dispersed evenly around the countryside. But people have been coming to cities for better economic and educational opportunities and better quality of life. It is about time that policy makers should think hard and plant to check the current demographic trend. This can be done, though it has yet not started to begin in Pakistan.

This is one of the reasons why one can believe that future lies in rural areas.

Labels:

posted by Omar M. Ali @ 10:59 AM, , links to this post

Pride of Thatta Kedona

By Jyoti Kalsi, Gulf News Report

Authentic Shahi Haleem from the famous Kausar restaurant in Karachi, a variety of delicious sweets, hand-embroidered salwar suits and shawls, trendy leather jackets and handbags, traditional handmade shoes, glittering jewellery, intricately carved wooden furniture, beautiful carpets and entertainment by well known performers — you can get all this and more at the Pakistan pavilion in Global Village.

The façade of this pavilion is modelled on the Baba E Khyber Fort in Peshawar, while the interior is a recreation of a typical Peshawari bazaar with over 80 stalls offering a taste of Pakistani culture, cuisine and creativity. While all the people managing the stalls and the items on sale are Pakistani, visitors will be surprised to find a German manning a stall here. Roman Laube is a media designer from Berlin and is spending his annual vacation as a volunteer for an NGO called Thatta Kedona. He has flown down to Dubai especially to help manage the organisation's stall at the pavilion.


"Kedona means ‘toy' in Punjabi and this began as a self-help project for women in a small village called Thatta Ghulam in Pakistan's Punjab province. It was established in 1993 by a German social worker. The project began with five women and now we have over 120 women working with us.

The money raised from worldwide sales of our products has been used to build a healthcare centre, a school, a deep borewell and training centres for young boys and girls in the village. We are grateful to the organisers of the Pakistan pavilion for giving us this space and we hope that visitors to the Global Village will support us whole-heartedly," said Laube.

The colourful stall has an array of products hand-made by the women. These include dolls in the traditional attire of different areas of Pakistan, embroidered dresses, cards, bookmarks,
beaded key rings, finger puppets, jewellery including necklaces with miniature doll pendants, block-printed bedcovers and Christmas decorations.

Also on display are beautiful hand-painted tinsheet miniature cycles, rickshaws and trucks made by young men from the village. The goods range in price from Dh3 to Dh200.

Labels:

posted by Omar M. Ali @ 2:12 PM, , links to this post

Female cabbie in Pakistan

From New York to Islamabad female cabbies are still news anywhere. And in Pakistan  female cabbie is ground-breaking. 

Remember how the New York Hack - blog by female New York cabbie – created waves before it died just after her fat book Hack off duty deal. Then we saw a book by a Pakistani cabbie titled For Hire. Cabbies always have interesting stuff to tell.

But Zahida Kazmi, a brave woman who have opted to drive taxi in Islamabad to support her family of six children - is by far only example in Pakistan as per my knowledge. She bought a yellow can on easy installments by a government scheme in 90's [when Pakistan was a little different and more tolerant] and started driving to pick the passengers.

Generally speaking, women in Pakistani society are perceived working as a teacher, nurse, salesperson or politicians but to deviate from the norm takes a lot of courage. To become a cabbie - a profession meant for the rough and tough and not the dainty - is hard but Zahida Kazmi took on the challenge. For a woman to enter the realm of men can pose a serious challenge to their monopoly. By becoming a cabdriver she is fighting the odds for nine years now. She has travelled all over the Pakistan and passengers feel much happy and comfortable to travel with her. “I am old now and I get tired. It's hard for me to drive all the time but what can I do, says Zahida Kazmi. [Posted from here]

Labels:

posted by Omar M. Ali @ 10:54 AM, , links to this post

Mud Hut - Thatta Ghulmaka Dheroka


Labels: ,

posted by Omar M. Ali @ 11:49 AM, , links to this post

Thatta Kecona Dolls House















Thatta Kedona Dolls House

Labels:

posted by Omar M. Ali @ 8:48 AM, , links to this post

Pakistan House Potsdam, Germany


Ruksana Hussain of AeFeA from TGD has visited several institutions in Berlin (art workshop, friendship center / special bilingual nursery, center for special education). Here she is shown standing in front of Punjab Gate / Pakistan House Potsdam. She participated in an event at Landgut Borsig - project where the village women produced the prototype for Mr and Mrs Borsig from 1866; the dolls made are a Pakistan-Greek-German production.

posted by Omar M. Ali @ 4:07 PM, , links to this post

The embroidery effect


Thanks to Polly and Me

Labels:

posted by Omar M. Ali @ 8:09 AM, , links to this post

Seal of Excellence

Coveted UNESCO award “Seal of Excellence 2007” was conferred upon Women Art Center of AFA in Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka. In Islamabad, an International Jury selected the dolls project on September 12-13, 2007. This is how a small village project won the award!

Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka - The Toy Village - is the name of the village in Punjab, about which a lot has been written, about its unique and special concept, Thatta Kedona is the name under which the handicraft products of the village and institutions connected to it within and outside the country are marketed.


“Thatta Kedona” is quite different in nature as compared to other NGO's or similar institutions: Help and support is provided to the people within the countryside, because “if the villagers earn some money, they are not forced to move to the cities, which are already overburdened with many problems”.


The agricultural activity in the village is not sufficient and therefore it is necessary to provide opportunities for additional income in the villages. This can be done by promoting the traditional culture and its conversion into handicrafts. The approach must always be understood in its totality and implemented properly.



The income generated through agriculture may be minimal, it may infact be just sufficient to meets the needs of basic food and simple shelter, but the cost of living in the village is definitely cheaper than the city; the push into the cities enables only the least of the migrants the promised benefits. The steadily increasing productivity of the urban industrial work place ruins not only the rural work place, but specially the life in the city; industrial production and global economics require increase in consumer base and destruction of resources, - in totality therefore not a great concept for the future.



“Thatta Kedona” propagates instead of a a mild effort rather Help Towards Self-Help, “Thatta Kedona” is not an instrument for development and financing of individual family interests nor is it an attemp at religious, political or educational infiltration !

“Thatta Kedona” does not exist with the help of donations or charity of the city dwellers, who may derive satisfaction from a good deed, -this is not compatible with the concept of Help Towards Self-Help: Donations and Alms help only superficially and encourage dependence, -a danger, which was already recognized by the founder of Pakistan and who warned against it.



In the so often propagated Global World, it is of much importance within a state to support Self-Help efforts on one hand to direct the population according to the available resources. If this does not happen, the increasing consumer behaviour kills the initiatives, which becomes known not in the beginning but at a much later stage, when reforms become impossible to implement.

The city culture is international and the problems in the cities worldwide similar, the traditional culture of diverse regions is something special and needs to be protected and supported, - Thatta Kedona is a metaphore for a change in the way of thinking: The future lies in the countryside!

Labels: ,

posted by Omar M. Ali @ 9:06 PM, , links to this post

Dolls Village Pottery Workshop






Monika Kuppler conducted workshops for dolls pottery for new students in Women Art Center. Here are some of the pieces thatwere produced during workshop.

Labels: , ,

posted by Omar M. Ali @ 8:36 AM, , links to this post


Download free eBooks