Thatta Kedona

Culture is a Basic Need

Dr. Senta Siller on the NGO Stall

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 6:31 AM, ,

Revival of Mud Architecture

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Are you familiar with the aura created when first drop of rain falls on ground? The smell speaks of serenity and purity. Those who are still living in mud houses know this very well. Coming from rural background, I am very well familiar with the sensation that appeals to all five sense at once. Lately use of local construction materials like mud is being promoted once again. Local NGO SPARC has started a mud houses projects in Lahore and have selected some functional mud houses in remote village Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka as show case giving mud house owners incentives to keep them spanking and open. This has created new chain of activities and people are seen renovating their houses (it is so easy to keep a mud house neat and new). These images showing women mud plastering exterior of their houses say a great deal.

Mud houses conventionally bring an image of ancient dwelling devoid of modern civic amenities. That is not true. Mud houses can be modern and fully equipped with all the facilities that are available anywhere. One wishes that urbanite revert back to use of energy efficient mud material, get closer to that nature and take advantages in urban areas so that this impression can be dispelled.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 1:54 PM, ,

Thatta Kedona at Pakistan Cultural Mela 2012

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Thatta Kedona participated in a three-day Pakistan Cultural Mela was organized at the Alhamra Cultural Complex Qaddafi Stadium on April 20-21, 2012. More than 80 handicraft stalls including Thatta Kedona were displayed in the cultural festival. Here are some of the impressions from the event.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 12:28 PM, ,

Pakistan House Potsdam Moves On

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After almost ten years of honorary work in the Pakistan House Potsdam, this phase is now coming to an end. The Pakistan House Potsdam was a starting point for foreign project workers, guests and visitors as well as for volunteers and the interested public. The active and non-selfish initiation and support of real self-help projects, support for income generating measures for the rural population, specially women, based upon the traditional culture were not beautiful words but reality; The support for the implementation of environment-friendly techniques in the rural areas was carried out through on-site lectures, in the NGO’s and educational institutions, through experimental workshops and product manufacturing and local sales. The idea, to operate independent of the central technical infra-structure (electricity), was demonstrated in practice and shown, that not only lighting, but also other usages, like charging a cell-phone battery etc. are possible. By activating volunteers outside of the project and generating interest of foreigners in the project countries, a sort of “soft” tourism was created. The PHP provided valuable help in the realization of such ideas.

The closure of Pakistan House Potsdam, the existence of which could only be successful through volunteers, does not mean an end to the work, but a further development, because the basis has been created, the people in the NGO’s have been trained and they are operating more or less rather independently since quite a long time.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 11:01 AM, ,

NGO Children Education Programs in TGD

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Since its inception, Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka NGO (Anjuman-e-Falah-e-Aama) is striving to develop and educate the village children along with its other work with women (in Women Art Centre) and with Men ( in Technology Transfer and Training Centre) as well as in the village basic health unit.

Annual distribution of free books, reduction of health risks through the possibility of using the clean water well, the population planning program One Baby, One Tree and sensitizing the young minds about natural resources and environment are some of the NGO’s ongoing programs. Notably, as part of the environment program, the children of the village collected plastic that is sold to a recycling firm in Lahore.

On March 24, 2012, the NGO organized a big event for the village school children. The event was also attended students from another school from nearby town and district headquarter Okara. In addition to playing sports and mixing up, Farooq Ahmed from TTTC explained environmental and resource protection to the children. Stephanie Walter, the volunteer of the Anjuman-e-Falah-e-Aama who is in the village these days also helped in this regard. The event was supported by the Lahore based Foundation for the Promotion of Academic Collaboration, which has already been supporting the distribution of free books to the village children in the past. Readers here already know that similar event was cooperation from Peerzada Cultural Complex Lahore where they had special puppet show.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 11:37 AM, ,

Heavenly Mud

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Dr. Gus Van Beek, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, is completing a book on Old World mud architecture, examining methods of construction and varieties of designs in contemporary as well as ancient structures. The work will cover major types of construction in Morocco, Egypt, Yemen, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and India, resulting from research on arch and vault construction which Dr. Van Beek started in 1971 as the result of examples he uncovered at Tel Jemmeh, Israel. Contact: Dr. Gus Van Beek, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History.
Related: Heavenly Mud


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:19 AM, ,

Books For Students of Dolls Village

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Some years ago, Senior German Volunteer Dr. Senta Siller had conceived and implemented the idea of giving books to the students of two government schools in Thatta Kedona Ghulamka Dheroka – the Dolls and Toy Village to promote education in rural community. At the start of academic session, Thatta Kedona distributes the books (and stationary items) to the students of Government Girls Primary School as well as in Government Boys Primary School.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 7:06 PM, ,

Thatta Kedona at Lok Mela in Lok Virsa, Islamabad

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After a long time and a number of delays due to security reasons, finally an event for handicrafts workers was held by Lok Virsa - the ethnological museum of Pakistan, in Islamabad. Khalid Javaid, the Director General Lok Versa once again succeeded in collecting the best handicraft workers from all over the country in Islamabad. Thatta Kedona – the project initiated by Dr. Senta Siller - of the AFA from the village Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka participated in the event.

Dolls dressed in the traditional dresses of different provinces and minorities by Women Art Center, the sheet metal toys of the TTTC Men Center well as special pottery products of the Women Ceramics Group supervised since years by Monika Kuppler were appreciated by large number of people.

Khalid Javaid has a long association with Thatta Kedona Project. He has also written foreword of the the book "Dolls Toys and More" by S.A.J. Shirazi that is being published this year. Here are some impressions from Lok Mela.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 11:52 AM, ,

Water Supply at Dolls Village

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Medical examinations in the past have shown, for example, that all children under 6 years had digestion problems caused by unhygienic water. The subsequent survey regarding quality of drinking water in households confirmed the medical suspicions. The promotion of clean drinking water is therefore of primary importance. Here is a brief about some of the projects undertaken in the village:


Supply of water

The water project was started with the help of a donation from a Pakistani business group. A presentation during a rotary district conference led to the financial support for the drinking water project, which now needs to be extended for practical purposes.

Deep drilling with pump

Preparatory work for transport of kitchen and grey water into the canals was financed in part with the help of the Japanese government. With this example, other bazaars were also connected. However, approximately 200 m canal is still missing on different portions. The drainage water however, cannot be led into the fields but only onto a buffalo pond. A large quantity of water is collected as overflow water of the project, which is led into the buffalo pond through an approximately 150 m long canal. The buffalo pond is thereby filled to some extent and additionally the accumulated water is led into the regional canal with the help of pumps.

Canals through bazaars (200 meters)
Drinking water, fish farm and garden culture

The promotion of the drinking water takes place in the tubewell. The village population receives its drinking water through the tubewell attendant. Further clean water is led into a cleaning reservoir, where fruit and vegetables can be cleaned, dried if required and also packed for sale.

This water is led into the fish farm pond through the overflow canal and through a further canal into an irrigation water reservoir for irrigating medicinal and kitchen plants and from their onto the drainage canal for buffalo pond.

Cleaning reservoir


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:53 AM, ,

Development Aid

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The amounts allocated in the federal budget for development aid say it all, namely that too much is being done and too little at the same time. How can that be, -only one thing can be true? And still, both are correct because for one it is too much and for the other too little.

Now, how does it look for the actively engaged people in development aid? They are mostly not thoroughly acquainted with the problems of the developing countries because they constantly make comparisons between their home and the project country und therefore very quickly develop a certain way of thinking, namely to develop themselves so much in the normally three years of participation in an overseas project, that they can build a small house of their own at home.

To these actively engaged persons also belong the diplomats, who –given the bad experiences- have to posess certain qualities, namely: be gladly in the home country and be in a position to use the German language in the foreign country. Now what does that mean? – foreign languages are learnt only later during the training process for the official post. Those posted in the foreign countries appear to hate their mother countries and therefore wake up early in the morning. Since they love security and safety of their official premises, they leave these only on arrival and departure and otherwise they are too busy in the table work or are participating in enormously important conferences and are therefore totally overloaded to even think of taking out time for not so important matters. To these not so important matters also belong the development aid projects. Their activity is mostly limited to finding paragraphs which speak against a project and to ensure employment at the base station for processing the incoming project proposals.

A pleasant side-effect is the official therapy. At home subjected to otherwise long and tedious therapy, these officials obtain official and free psychological treatment in which they are required to look after the visitors and applicants in a friendly manner and thereby ascertain their importance, which can be summed up to be zero. This strengthens the officer and makes him resistant to inter human contact.

The projects most successful are the ones in which the families involved in the project are well looked after; that’s also a sort of development aid.

Employees of the population and immigration offices are called human smugglers. They have improved their image in the meanwhile quite a lot and now offer complete immigration packages. The concerned family has to pay a certain amount of money and with that it gets a guarantee that one person from the family will get an entry visa to the desired country even without any knowledge of the language of the host country. A lot of advertisement is done in this context; the diplomatic representation or the embassy on its part does not keep one eye closed here. On the contrary, they keep their eyes wide open on their work tables and avoid in case travel in such a dangerous country.

In short: how bad it would be if these officials of the foreign ministry and the ministry for development aid were not there? - The country would have additional unemployed persons, not much but still. Moreover, the expensive therapy costs are saved by way of the residence in the foreign country, where aggressions and humanly mistakes can be let out without anyone making a fuss!

posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:19 AM, ,

BNU Students Visit Dolls Village

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Students from different universities visit Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka for researh, learning and excursion. Here students from Beaconhouse National University are being briefed by Farooq Ahmed of Thatta Kedona in WAC in the Dolls Village.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:30 AM, ,

Appropriate Technology Solutions Exhibition

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In the face of energy shortage, particularly in the rural areas of Pakistan, Appropriate Technology is the obvious solution and people are turning to appropriate technology solutions. Best thing is that appropriate technology solutions are not only affordable and available but they are guaranteed anywhere.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 11:59 AM, ,

Thatta Kedona Pottery and Ceramic Workshop

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Monika Kuppler conducted Pottery and Ceramic Workshop in Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka.

posted by S A J Shirazi @ 11:05 AM, ,

Wood Work

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Engraved woodwork - the name is enough to collectors, travellers and cautiously curious dreaming. Antiquity is the first message of the ancient art. And, woodwork executed in villages of Pakistan is a collector's delight that needs to be preserved.

During the Mughal era, Pakistan produced many intelligent personalities and talented artisans who occupied positions in the Mughal courts. Artisans of Pakistan have instinctive good taste and they have achieved a distinctive excellence in woodwork. They are said to have been employed during the construction of Taj Mahal at Agra and Golden Temple at Amritsar. Special types of furniture and decorative items with brightly lacquered woodcarvings and coloured woodwork are still made here and famous all over the world. Gujrat, Chaniot and Multan are particularly famous for woodwork.

What this internationally acclaimed craft of the country needs is an institutional patronization and extensive efforts for preservation. Made in Pakistan wood items are found at different antique shops and but this art seem to be fading away in the face of the factory made items. It can be a potent source of earning for village artisans if attention is paid to and earnest efforts are made. Sadly, the trained incompetents responsible for export promotion of art and culture do not see this and the unique potentials and its cultural importance yet.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 4:14 PM, ,

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