Thatta Kedona

Culture is a Basic Need

Pakistan House Potsdam Moves On

After over ten years of honorary work, the Pakistan House Potsdam, Germany is closing as the Pakistani village self help project is entering another phase. The Pakistan House has remained a starting point for self help project in Pakistani village Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka situated on the bank of the river Ravi some 80 kilometers from Lahore. The closure of Pakistan House Potsdam does not mean an end to the noble work. Instead, it is a new phase in the life of the self help project because the basis has been created and people in the village have been trained and they are operating more or less independently since quite a long time.

Idea of Pakistan House took birth back in 1997 when Bonn was still the federal capital of Germany. With the cooperation of the DGFK – an ardent supporter of cultural development projects – the Pakistan House was established in Potsdam, the provincial capital of the province of Brandenburg in the close proximity of Berlin which was to become a federal capital.

The volunteers coming to work in Pakistani village self help project from Germany help change the life in the Village. Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka is a small village of 200 households. It did not have electricity and no paved road lead there before the self help project started in the village. Dr. Senta Siller visited the village on the invitation of one of her students who belonged to the village and was so impressed by the traditional culture and natural way of life there that she decided to work for the village. On her persuasion DGFK started a self help project in the village.

The initiation of the self-help projects helps income generating for the rural population, specially women. The projects also support the implementation of environment-friendly techniques in the rural areas. The ideas to operate independent of the central technical infra-structure like electricity for not only lighting, but also other usages, like charging a cell-phone battery can be demonstrated on ground. By activating volunteers outside of the project and generating interest of foreigners in the project countries, a sort of “soft” tourism is created that helps rural areas. The Pakistan House provided valuable help in the realization of such ideas.

The aim of the Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka project is to preserve the traditional rural culture and create additional income for the women folks in the village. Dr. Senta Siller trained the women in the village to make stuff dolls that she marketed in cultural circles and sold. The income goes to those dolls makers in the village. The dolls not only are collectors delight but have also made their way to major international EXPOS and in museums like Ethnological Museum Dahlem, Rautenstrauch-Jost-Museum in Cologne, Voelkerkundemuseum in Hamburg, Linden-Museum in Stuttgart, Grassi-Museum in Leipzig, Voelkerkundemuseum in Vienna and some others around the world.

This was made possible with the help of volunteers coming to the village from Pakistan House in Potsdam.

In 1999, the Pakistan House took a physical look of a Pakistani house when 250 years old door was transferred to the Pakistan House. The door that was exhibited during EXPO2000 exposition in Hannover was shifted and Installed at the Pakistan House. Later, the Pakistan House Potsdam was officially inaugurated by the then Pakistani ambassador to Germany in 2001.

Since its establishment the Pakistan House has been preparing honorary workers and volunteers for deployment in the project. The House also became center for discussions and information about improvement in the work for the interested public. Lectures by guest speakers were delivered there. In cooperation with the Pakistan Embassy, a large number of Pakistani visitors (including member of government, ambassadors, and officials of various organizations, members of the military academy, journalists, and students) to Potsdam found their way to the House. Pakistan days were celebrated there with cultural fanfare. German institution like House of Cultures of the World, Import-Shop, Q-Damm Mile, and Festival of Nations also were partners in activities at the House.

Thanks to the fast communication channels and volunteer film makers like Globians that the world came to know about the successful activities in the Pakistan House that had resulted in greater success of the Pakistan village project. Many likeminded people approached Pakistan and similar projects started in Cameroon (in 1998), Columbia (1999), Iceland (2000), and Gross-Behnitz in 2009. Over time, the Pakistan House Potsdam that was a physical thing has changed into a concept that future lies in the rural areas.

In April 2009, Pakistan House at Potsdam is closing, may be to reopen at another place. But the work in the form of village dolls and toys of Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka that started in the house will live on.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:42 AM,


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