P. Sainath – upcoming talks in America

Sainath-MIT1aThe eminent journalist P. Sainath, author of the groundbreaking collection of reports Everybody Loves a Good Drought, is headed to the USA from his base in India. He will give a series of talks at various campuses about his work and the unique, empowering, online journalistic endeavour he launched last year, the People’s Archive of Rural India – PARI. Worth going to hear him speak if you are in the area. See my article about him: Travels though history with a rural archivist.

Campus times and dates below, with some posters by a PARI volunteer. Continue reading

The Orangi Pilot Project and Legacy of Architect Perween Rehman @ MIT

Arif Hasan: Architect with ethics

Arif Hasan and Perween Rehman: Architects with ethics

Parveen Rehman, photo by Steve Inskeep, NPR

Perween Rehman, photo by Steve Inskeep, NPR

 An abbreviated version of my article on the symposium held at MIT to commemorate Perween Rehman and her legacy was published in The News on Sunday last weekend, titled Commitment personified. Below, the full text with additional links and photos:  

Speakers at a symposium in the Boston area last week, on “The Orangi Pilot Project and Legacy of Architect Perween Rehmanpaid tribute to the late architect and OPP director, as “a woman, architect and social activist”. They also discussed parallels between the issues faced by the urban poor in and elsewhere. Hosted by the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the symposium featured prominent academics from India, Pakistan and the United States. The event, spearheaded by graduate students Fizzah Sajjad and Hala B. Malik from Lahore, had been in the planning soon after the murder of Perween Rehman in Karachi on March 13, 2013. Continue reading

When urban planning meets disaster management and mental health

Harvard SAI Karachi confMy article published in The News on Sunday today, about the Contemporary South Asian City Conference in Karachi last month co-sponsored by Harvard South Asia Institute and Aman Foundation, with Pakistan Urban Forum – by all accounts a most dynamic and exciting event. I spoke to two Harvard professors in Cambridge MA after their return from Karachi.

By Beena Sarwar

Rahul Mehrotra is no stranger to Karachi. From his base in Mumbai, he built Amin Hashwani’s house in Karachi some years ago, a project for which he visited the city several times. “By the time we did the interiors though, we couldn’t get visas,” he added, when we spoke in Cambridge recently. Continue reading

As winter sets in, flood survivors in Sindh need more help

In all the excitement about ‘memogate’, let’s remember to spare a thought — and some cash and other items — for the flood survivors of Pakistan. As winter sets in and the cold winds start to blow, they need our help more than ever. Here’s a note I’ve been meaning to post out for some time, information provided by friend and music lover Siraj Khan who personally vouches for the Pathfinders Welfare Organisation, a volunteer group doing flood relief work primarily in the Badin area of Sindh. “PWO is unique in many ways. Its team is made almost entirely of students from local medical colleges. Many are girls. There was one who even used to ride her brother’s motorbike for work, if other transport wasn’t available,” says Siraj. “PWO needs more visibility for its work and, of course, funds.”

Continue reading

This Eid, donate a goat for women flood survivors: Indus Resource Centre

Saving precious livestock in Badin / Photo: Reuters

I had earlier circulated an appeal from Sadiqa Salahuddin, the well known educator, whose Indus Resource Centre is doing exemplary work in Sindh regarding girls’ education and also working since last year for flood relief. She sent out the following update on Oct 24, requesting people to donate a goat rather than sacrificing one this coming Eid:

Dear all,

You may recall that around this time last year, I requested you to complement or divert your qurbani (sacrifice) budget for donation of animals to those poor rural women who had lost their animals in the floods of 2010. I am making the same appeal this year as unfortunately, the situation is not any better. According to Provincial Disaster Management Authority Sindh, 115,586 animals have perished during this monsoon. Besides, thousands of villagers from the rain affected districts sold their animals at throwaway prices as they had no money to feed themselves or animals. Continue reading

Pakistan floods: Want to help?

Dr Geet Chainani in the field: NEED food, medicines, water, tents

Pakistan was still reeling from the devastating floods of last year when fresh disaster struck.

The situation is worse than reported,” messaged the journalist and activist Aslam Khwaja, back in Karachi after a recent five-day visit to six rain-hit districts of Sindh. Many others working in the affected areas have relayed similar obervations as they scramble to renew their efforts.

Young Doctors Assocation volunteer at Mirpurkhas relief camp: URGENTLY NEED MEDICINES

8.1 million people are homeless, with less than a quarter of them (approx 0.71 million) accommodated in about 3,000 makeshift relief camps set up by the Sindh Government. Conditions are appalling, with severe shortage of food, water and medical supplies. Some 370 people have died, hundreds more injured, and some 6.1 million acres of land and 1.5 million houses underwater or severely damaged, according to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of Pakistan. The estimated loss to the cotton crop is estimated at a staggering Rs 75 billion.

YOU CAN HELP by sending money and relief goods to the organization of your choice. The most urgent needs are: tents, food, clean water, medicine. Continue reading

General observations about Pakistan floods

Some general observations from the floods of 2010, which are sadly relevant again:

  • People affected by the floods (last year as well as now) were already among the poorest begin with although they do include some well-off farmers and trades-people too, in areas where there was already little access to education and healthcare.
  • The relief camps set up last year brought an unexpected silver lining in the opportunity to many flood affected people who had access to a doctor or a teacher – for the FIRST time in their lives – at the relief camps. This indicates the level of underdevelopment in Pakistan, the huge percentage of the population that lacks access to healthcare and education. Continue reading
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