International Heritage Workshop at Makli 24th-27th Oct

Text & Visuals | Mohammad Mehdi

Three day International Heritage Workshop organized in collaboration with Prince Claus Fund (PCF)/Gerda Henkel Foundation (GHF) and Heritage Foundation (HF)/Spiritual Chords (SC) and Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners (PCATP) concluded on 27th October 2018. The workshop was conducted at ZC3, Zero Carbon Cultural Centre, near World Heritage Makli Site.

On 24th October, the audience was composed of international and national experts, public representatives, high level government officials, eminent architects, university students from Sindh and Balochistan along with their faculty, and community members including women and a large number of media representatives, many of whom had come from Karachi.

On 27th in addition to those who attended on 24th October, several distinguished diplomats also attended.

The vast hall of ZC3 accommodate 200 persons who were later served lunch from the Zero Carbon Chai Khana which was managed by the Barefoot Chulah team, all women who were smartly dressed in their uniforms and served the guests with great confidence. The community members that were present were all former mendicants (beggars) and as partners in the HF/SC Green Shelters project, they were visibly proud of having achieved dignity and self-reliance.

In his welcome speech Director General Archaeology, Mr. Manzoor Kanasro informed about Sindh Government’s plans for the uplift of the world heritage site along with their resolve to engage civil society and communities in heritage safeguarding efforts.

An excellent documentary prepared by the Directorate showed the majesty of the Makli necropolis and Minister Sardar Ali Shah’s resolve to bring back its glory.  Ar. Yasmeen Lari, CEO, Heritage Foundation presented an introduction to Makli World Heritage and the work of Heritage Foundation which spanned over the last 30 years including documentation, publications by Suhail Zaheer Lari and conservation of 5 monuments. She explained the background for taking up the 17th c. tomb of Munir Maghfouri in partnership with Cultural Emergency Response of Prince Claus Fund and the creation of network of conservation partners developed by Ms. Deborah Stolk in order to share innovative approaches for safeguarding cultural heritage.

A first-rate documentary by Ms. Shanaz Ramzi, covered the Green Shelters project and the transformation brought about by the effort of the community in partnership with Heritage Foundation. The documentary, “A Tribute to Kareema: From beggarwoman to ceramic artist”  showed how in return for the gifts of shelter, toilet, water hand pumps and chulah, the community had risen from a state of apathy and was on the path of self-reliance.

Dr. Salma Samar Damluji, the partner in CER-NET, CEO of Daw’an MudBrick Architecture Foundation, presented her remarkable work in historic Yemen in restoring traditional houses and the training of local artisans. Her presentation was among the highlights of the event that showed the importance of traditional materials and technique.

As Ms. Deborah Stolk, program director, CER, Prince Claus Fund had been unable to come to Pakistan due to visa issues, Dr. Damluji, who had been a long term partner with Prince Claus Fund, had been requested to deliver the message by Ms. Stolk to provide background information regarding PCF in general and in particular the CER-NET partnership of which HF and Dr. Damluji’s Foundation were the first partners.

Other speakers included distinguished architect Asad I. A. Khan, Chairman of Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners (PCATP). His address highlighted the importance of alternative and green methods of construction and the need for focusing on saving our heritage.

The speech by Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Nawaz Sohoo provided background information regarding the importance of Thatta, a town that was once a celebrated centre of culture and commerce and the capital of Sindh.

The address by US Consul General JoAnn Wagner highlighted the importance of culture in our lives, and the reason that the Ambassador’s Fund provides assistance to heritage projects. She referred to the conservation of the tomb of Sultan Ibrahim and the most recent grant for the protection of Mohenjodaro artefacts at the National Museum.

The enthusiastic address by German Ambassador Dr. Martin Kobler referred to the venue of ZCS, which he had seen a year ago when still being developed. He noted that importance of low/zero carbon methodologies and in this connection he expressed his pleasure at the strategies being followed by Heritage Foundation. He also explained the partnership of Gerda Henkel Foundation with Prince Claus Fund in order to conserve the 17th c. Munir Maghfouri monument.

25th October afternoon and 26th were dedicated to students workshops when lectures by Mr. Saad Khan, CEO, Pakswiss Technologies, an expert on water issues, Ar. Ghazala Naeem, an expert on Disaster Risk Reduction, Ar./Plnr. Sadia Fazli, Registrar PCATP, and architect Murad Jamil spoke on various topics to apprise the students in diverse strategies that need to be adopted.

The guests were all served from the Zero Carbon Chai Khana in recycled newspaper tube boxes fabricated by the community children as part of their craft exercise. The lunch boxes were lined with banana leaves that had been washed in food grade chlorine water. The ceramic spoons that had been specially designed and fabricated turned out to be a popular product by the guests.

Both Ambassador Kobler and CG Wagner visited various parts of ZC3 including the newly set up eco-tourist resort built with bamboo prefabricated structures. CG Wagner posed with the former mendicant women and showed her admiration for the two Ladies Fund Idol Award winners: Champa (2016) for the chulahs and Kareema (2018) for ceramics/terracotta ornaments.

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