Monday, June 29, 2009

Work with Afghan Refugees & the Earthquake victims

Work with Afghan Refugee children

From 2002 till 2005 Funkor Childart Center organised regular art and craft workshops in the Afghan Refugee camp in H 11. Art work of some of the students was included in a publication of UNESCO "Teaching of Afghan Refugee Teachers in Pakistan". Funkor organised many workshops where volunteers of JICA and organised art and book reading worked with Afghan refugee children. Organised activities with Afghan Refugee children for Cawish Development Foundation. Organised exhibition of Afghan refugee children's artwork and included their work in the International Children's Day organised by the Ministry of Special Education and Social Welfare.

Young artists yearn for peace thru work

Islamabad, May 29: we want to move to where the butterflies are, spoke little children gathered at an arts and crafts festival organized at the NIC building here on Saturday.

The event was organized by the director Funkor Child Art Center, Fauzia Minallah.

Dr Fauzia Saeed, author of the best-selling book ‘Taboo’ and the action-aid Pakistan director, inaugurated the festival.

The chief attraction at the festival was several large murals done by the children. These murals had scenes of rainbows and butterflies, symbolizing a yearning for peace in young hearts.

The children said butterflies appeared in clean places and if they wished to see more butterflies they should keep homes and play ground clean.

A very encouraging sight was of Afghan children from the UNESCO school in F-11, busy embroidering on plastic bags and mixing with the fashionable crowd of city children from affluent homes in Islamabad. Among them was the four-year-old Shafiqa from a very poor Afghan home, yet eager to go to school.

Drawings sent by Kalash children were also on display.

They had made their drawings on paper made out of wheat straw and walnut skin and colour gathered from mulberry trees, reflective of their close association with Mother Nature.

A number of children also produced handmade cards and other kick-knacks and offered them for sale to more than 100 adult visitors who gladly purchased these wares.

Fauzia Saeed told this reporter that she was thrilled to see children get an opportunity to come together and enjoy themselves in the company of their own age group. Normally such opportunities are not available to them.

Fauzia Minallah said she was keen that more children from private schools attended this new kind of festival.

She said in the recent two months she had been busy organizing workshops on using recycled materials such as cartons and polythene bags so as to develop children skills in crafts. She regretted that government schools usually avoid emphasis on crafts.

Dawn Sunday, May 30, 2004

DAWN Metropolitan report 7, Jan 2004 -:

Afghan Children Depict War, Agony through Art

By Mobarik Virk

ISLAMABAD, Jan 6: An exhibition of murals and paintings by children representing almost every segment of the society was organised at Funkor Child Art Centre here on Monday. Ingeborg Briennes, the representative of UNESCO in Pakistan, was chief guest at the opening ceremony.

Fauzia Minallah has collected the paintings done by children over the last three months and in the process she visited the famous Afghan Basti, the refugee camp in I-11, a Christian colony in the heart of the federal capital, a posh private school and an institute of the hearing-impaired children in Lahore.

One look at the works of these children and one can easily make out as to how they get influenced by their surroundings and how do they feel about the life around them.

The art pieces done by the Afghan boys mostly show helicopters, jets, school buildings, while those done by the Afghan girls invariably show homes. "These children, who are born in these camps in Pakistan and have never practically seen the ugly ravages of war, are still heavily influenced by what is going on back in their country because that is what they learn from their elders and their guests," Ms Minallah said.

"An Afghan child painted a school building with a helicopter hovering over it. And when he was asked to explain, he said the building was a school in which he felt safe, while the helicopter was out there to carry out destruction. This showed how they got influenced by what they listened to in their surroundings," Ms Minallah said.

Similarly, she said the Afghan girls were always painting homes, ovens and household goods because these were the things they lacked and aspired to get them in their dreams.

The paintings collected from the Christian Colony in Islamabad mostly present the Pakistani flag and a Cross. "It is their desire to identify themselves with the country as a Pakistani and Cross clearly represents their strong sentiments and affiliation with their religion," Ms Minallah said.

On the other hand, she said, the children in the expensive private schools painted computers, hi-tech gadgets, and their paintings abundantly reflected the violence they watched in the computer and video games. "This is an entirely different reflection of a life-style," she said.

Most interesting were the paintings submitted by the children from a Lahore-based school for the hearing impaired. Most of these children have painted foreign children and have tried to identify them. "It is a beautiful collection of works done by these children, which reflect their feelings and their desires."

Work with the Victims of Earthquake 2005

Funkor Childart Center used Art and story telling as an integral part of healing with the victims of the devastating earthquake of October 2005 in the hospitals and camps in Islamabad. Some of the artwork and stories have been published in a book ‘Kashmir’s Children – The Silent Witnesses of the Earthquake’, Al Madad Foundation Elliot & Thompson. Their artwork was also displayed in Germany by Little Art in Munich.The article ' Child Victims need Human Touch' by Fauzia Minallah, which was printed in Dawn newspaper, was instrumental in creating an awareness about the vunerability of unattended children in hospitals. Thousands of injured children were brought in helicopters and many of them were without adult attendant,thus at great risk of being kidnapped by child traffickers. Fauzia also developed communication material on Hygiene promotion for the UNICEF to be used in relief camps. The material was pre tested in the relief camps of Bagh , Muzaffarabad and Mansehra.

Khursheed,10 years with his drawing. PIMS hospital Islamabad.
Khursheed writing his story.
Waqas Ali with other unattended children we worked with in the PIMS hospital Islamabad.

Stories during our workshops with earthquake affected children in the hospital, published in ‘Kashmir’s Children – The Silent Witnesses of the Earthquake’, Al Madad Foundation Elliot & Thompson.


On the morning of 8th October, at 8:52am, Qiyamat [the day of Judgement] struck with an earthquake. I was standing next to my house and suddenly I was thrown to the ground. While I was watching houses were falling. Two houses were standing….and I called to some men that for God’s sake, let’s try and get these people out. But they didn’t hear me. Every one was worried about themselves. But the woman helped us and we continued to help take more people out. Then we realized that the earthquake had struck not only our village.

I suddenly remembered my brothers, my mother and my father. In a short while, Abu [fate] came. I was happy. But I still did not know that my mother and three brothers had died inside the house. It was only when my father went back to the village on the third day that I found out that my mother and three brothers had died in the house.

They were buried there.

This was my story, my home.

Muhammad Hafeez, Muzaffarabad


My village is Balakot. On the

day the earthquake struck, I was in my village, gathering grass. My brother’s son was near me. When the earthquake struck, stones falling started. A stone fell on my leg. Then they took me and kept me in someone else’s house. After three days they took me to Balakot. They put me on a plane and took me to a hospital. Then I had an operation.

They treated me very well. The other child died. They buried him straight away. He was 12-years old. Nine people from our area died. One of them was 13-years old. His name was Muhammad Tanveer. He was at school when the roof fell on him. It fell on his arm and he died. The other one was a girl called Gulraiz Bibi [a title of respect for a woman]. She also died. She had a son, he also died. The boy’s name was Naseer. The fifth boy’s name was Lateef. He was going out of the house. The door fell on him and he died.

Muneer Hussain, Balakot


I study in the 7th grade. I have two brothers and one sister. This is what I saw. On Saturday, I had come to school fasting. When I reached school this incident took place. The first lesson had started in the class room. Sir had given the first test and also class work. Then he went out. Suddenly, a wall fell. And then another. My friend Anam got up from near me. Then it was very dark. Everyone started screaming, ‘take us out, and take us out!

I was alone at my desk. I don’t know who took out all my other classmates. Had they been there they would have spoken. And now I didn’t know who was alive and who had died and gone to Allah. I was taken out of the school on the tired day. When I regained consciousness I called out, ‘take me out!’

My cousins who were in the room next door and my brother were taken out. It was my qismet [fate] that I did not come out. My feet were under walls. I tried very hard to get out. I could not get out. I thought I must die but I was destined to live, so I am alive.

I was thirsty. But no one took me out or gave me water. Meanwhile, the school kept collapsing into rubble. Stones kept falling on me. After three days, my aunty, sir, and lots of other people came to take me out. After three days, nobody could believe that I was alive. I know that whoever reads my story will either feel very sad for me or cry.

Huma Kazami, Muzaffarabad


The day of the earthquake was a Saturday. All of us in the class room were memorizing an essay when it started. The boys who were in front of me were trying to go outside. Because they were pushing each other they fell down. I came out ahead of them. This is the blessing of Allah that he has given me a new life. When I come back home, our house had fallen and my brother was crying. I picked him up and took him to a safe place. I tore my shirt and tied it to his head and we all came to the fields and we all put tents there. We stayed there for five day. It was on the 12th of October that a French helicopter took us to Islamabad.

….I still remembers that moment which was like Qiyamat (the Day of Judgment). And when I think of it, I am very frightened. When I first came here, some children had had their arms amputated and some had had their legs amputated. I was so impressed by all the people who showed such sympathy. May god bless them for their kindness? We can not forget their kindness towards us. We are indebted to them as well. We can only pray.

Waqas Ali, Muzaffarabad


When the helicopter brought us to Islamabad we were 50 people in total. And when we reached Islamabad, a truck picked up all the wounded and took them to a hospital. Over there, they were admitted.

When we reached Islamabad, a lady, Fauzia Khala [a title of respect, or a maternal aunt] helped us a lot. Allah does not allow any one’s hard work to go wasted. My god rewards them for their kindness. They gave us clothes, food to eat and toys to play with. We are indebted to them for their kindness. Fauzia Khala took great care of us. We pray that God rewards her for her kindness to us.

Waqas Ali, Muzaffarabad


When my brother went home, he said that he would find out about our house. He would try and salvage some of the furniture from under the rubber. And he would try and find out the whereabouts of our family. And he said he would take us brothers, Waqas Ali and Ehsan home. He said he would be back in 3 to 4 days.

When my friend called me I felt that at last I had found a friend. When he called me I was very happy. It was a great relief for me. His name is Shaikh Al Hussain. He is very nice.

Waqas Ali, Muzaffarabad