Thatta Kedona

Culture is a Basic Need

Standing ovation for Dr Senta Siller

Dr Senta Siller – Mother of Dolls - is not only a researcher, graphic designer, art historian turned SES volunteer but also a great builder of trust; trust in one’s own self. She creates hope. Presently, she is working to lay down the foundation of cooperation between AFA NGO from village Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka and AFWA (NGO from Bhara Kahu). 

Madam Janat al Firdus (AFWA), Prof Dr Norbert Pintsch (SES, SPARC, Appropriate Technology, Housing, Communication, Information), Dr Senta Siller (SES, AFA, Handicraft, Organization, Upcycling), Mr. Farooq (AFA), Men Centre, Mrs. Chand (AFWA).

In early 90s, Dr Senta Siller starting creating hope in women of Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka – a small Pakistani village on the bank of the Ravi some 170 kiometers from Lahore (40 kilometres from Indus civilization ruins in Harappa). Her work of 25 years in the village has now turned the village into Dolls’ Village known all over the world. But her real achievement is that artisans of the village whom Dr Senta Siller taught traditional skills to generate some additional income are now fully empowered, aware, enlightened trainers.

When influences from Indus civilization from nearby Harappa and modern techniques brought to the village by the SES volunteers started producing results, the self help project in the Dolls’ Village expanded to other countries like Cameroon, Colombia, Iceland and Germany. In these projects handicraft is in the spot on the stage. And the projects have a cultural philosophy; education, science, agriculture, hydrogeology (drinking water project), appropriate technology, public health, economy (marketing and distribution), tourism and communication, are all in practice.

After 8 years, Dr. Senta Siller is back in Pakistan to build trust and create hope in Bhara Kahu (small village near Islamabad). Meetings are taking place to lay down the foundation of cooperation between AFA (NGO from Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka aka Dolls Village) and AFWA (NGO from Bhara Kahu).

AWFA is mainly a private school of 250 students with no sources of income where Dr Senta Siller is working to set up upcycling (recycling plus design to add value) project with the help of AFA to start with.

Trainers from Dolls’ Village and foreign volunteers (thanks to SES, Germany) will hopefully come and help train women in Bhara Kahu to produce products that can generate additional income.

I have personally seen how Dr Senta Siller has passed on the skills to women in Dolls Village step by step, and how she made them realize the importance of our culture and folklore themes. In the process handmade quality products were crafted using all indigenous material and traditional designs. Over 5 years time, I saw the Dolls’ Village women become independent. “I have great expectations from the cooperation between two NGO,” says Dr Senta Siller. Interaction between women from flat land of Central Punjab with women of Northern Punjab will have so many other benefits, added Dr Denta Siller.

"The goals of the cooperation between AFA and AWFA are self-help activities at grass roots level, empowerment of women, income generation, literacy and vocational training, says Dr. Norbert Pintsch, SES volunteer. The philosophy working behind this cooperation is "creating awareness about upcycling and preservation of nature," he added.

Dr Senta Siller with S A J Shirazi

About the choice of village Bhara Kahu NGO for this cooperation, Dr Norbert pointed out that given the security situation in the country it is doubly difficult for foreigners to go to Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka. It will be easier for them to visit picturesque Bhara Kahu because it is half way between Muree and Islamabad. 

Cooperation between the two NGOs, guidance and expert advice by Dr. Senta Siller, Dr. Norbert Pintsch and other volunteers will go a ‘new’ long way.

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posted by Omar M. Ali @ 2:00 PM,

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