Newspakistan Exclusive By: Sheher Bano
KARACHI: A group of 32 women and eight men from various parts of Sindh came to Ladies Dhaba, established at Mauripur Road here by the Women Development Foundation (WDFP) for women of the area to eat, play and relax.
The visit was a part of an exchange program between Thardeep Rural Development Program (TRDP) and Women Development Foundation Pakistan, who had agreed to bring these skilled women in the Metropolis so that they could check the markets here and upgrade their products and services according to the current market demands.
A little walk into the congested street of Jhaskani Muhalla near Grex stop on Hawke’s Bay Road, Karachi, one reaches this exotic Ladies Dhaba, after passing through narrow lanes and toppling overflowing gutters and making way through the encroached footpath area by a cap seller, and other small roadside shops extended to the main road.
Situated on the first floor of the WDFP small office’s double-storey building, Dhaba is decorated with Takhts, covered with red carpets and round pillow (Gaao Takiye), and the walls are decorated with various banners having interesting slogans. On one side of the Dhaba, a door inside leads to the conference room, where not only small events/sessions are conducted but various classes are also held for the women of the area.
The encouragement for these women to take this giant step to come here came through the SUCCESS Program, which is based on the Rural Support Program (RSPs) social mobilization approach to Community Driven Development (CDD).
SUCCESS is a six-year long (2015-2021) program funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented among others by Thardeep Rural Development Program (TRDP) in eight districts of Sindh, namely: Qambar Shahdadkot, Larkana, Dadu, Jamshoro, Matiari, Sujawal, TandoAllahyar and Tando Muhammad Khan.Under the SUCCESS Programme, Community Organizations (COs), Village Organizations (VOs) and Local Support Organizations (LSOs) were formed to create local level governance bodies owned and operated by the people.
“Few of these women, who never had stepped out of their houses, were LSOs from various districts, and had come all the way from Sukkur, Dadu, Jamshoro, Tehsil Mehar, Khairpur Nathan Shah, Johi, Kotri, Sehwan Shah and Thana Bullah Khan. These LSOs initially identified problems in their own villages and then came up with solutions,” informed Samad Phuputo, Coordinator HRD of Success Program.
“After visiting this place we are planning to replicate such Ladies Dhabas soon in Sukkur, Dado and Jamshoro,” informed Samad with a pride. Equipped with indoor games like carom, tennis, Ludo, Ladies Dhaba was opened for the women of the area in 2016 to give them space to sit and relax in a tension free environment, away from the morbid milieu of their homes.
“While men in our society have many places to sit and chat and find opportunities of rest and recreation, women live with same routine in their homes, which rusts their creative talents and their ability to think out of box,” said Sabiha Shah, founding Chairman of Women Development Foundation Pakistan and also the Vice Chairman of Thardeep.
“Women should be given equal opportunities to grow and cultivate their talent and there is no religious bar on women to engage in healthy activities, but due to some cultural boundaries women are unable to show their full potential. Dhaba is structured in such a way that even men can avail the opportunity to sit and relax,” said Sabiha while adding “change we are bringing about through this Dhaba is taken very positively by the area women.”
Their regular meet up at the Dhaba gives them access to information and awareness of many issues, when they meet women from other areas. Sometimes, even consulate members have also visited the place and wondered at the liberty being given to the women of this slum area of Karachi, which is far less developed than other parts of this biggest city of Pakistan,” maintained Sabiha.
Women Development foundation, founded in 2004, has been working in Kaemari, Bin Qasim Town. “Dhaba is not only a relaxing and playing area, it has combined fun with positive activities like technical classes on Beautician, stitching courses besides awareness workshops on youth and women empowerment, and sensitization of males and females on peace and harmony.
“Besides, cooking and yoga classes are also held at the Dhaba. Recently, Ruby Jay, a renowned culinary exert, did live cooking at the Dhaba,” informed Sabiha. “Only through Success program we got awareness about making our CNICs and also vaccinating our children,” said Aziza who had come from Shahdad Khan, Dado district.
Amina Soomro from Manjhan, Jamshoro district, also endorsed Aziza’s views, while informing that the stitching training centre in her area, has given opportunities to many girls of the area to learn stitching and then earn from home.
Bushra Jatoi had overcome her financial ordeal by learning R-work, Zaree embroidery, (Adda work), and jewelry making. Now she makes her products and sells them in the village. She was also here to see the new designs which she could make for her clients.
Sheher Bano from Jamshoro was another role model for her village girls, when she took up stitching and baking courses offered under Success program, and then she started supplying biscuits and other Bakery items in her village. The same technical skill took her to Islamabad, where she displayed her skills.
“It’s such a pleasure to come here, to see women having a space to sit and relax,” said Noor Bano who is VO Manager and a Fashion Jewelry trainer. She makes jewelry and her husband sells it in Karachi. During her next visit to the Metropolis she is planning to visit Hyperstar at Clifton to observe new jewelry designs for her future products. News Pakistan