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This woman has made it her mission to transform Karachi's garbage into houses

Updated Aug 29, 2016 05:57pm

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As Karachi drowns in garbage, one woman has made it her mission to recycle and reuse industrial waste. Nargis Latif's idea is to create homes and furniture out of Karachi’s garbage — and it is genius.

Her Gul Bahao project transforms plastic materials rejected by factories into bricks that can be made into low-cost shelters, furniture and pretty much anything else. The project is not only aimed at cleaning up garbage, but at reducing its output and prevent it from going up in smoke, which is the common practice of burning garbage.

“There are 5,000 factories in Pakistan that produce tons and tons of waste material every day,” she says. Latif takes their unused ─ rejected and ultimately clean ─ waste and effectively puts it to use.

With a mind for research and innovation, Latif says she set out with the belief that “Karachi should be clean”.

“Since my childhood, I wanted to become a scientist. My desire always was to come up with innovations, to come up with something that will help mankind.”

“We have given new concepts, new ideas, and new products.”

Latif chronicles her journey of two decades and the chronic search for funds to run the project and its research. “It was not easy. I had to beg, borrow and steal. I had to borrow from moneylenders at superlative rates. But the results have been fantastic.”

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Comments (52) Closed



ali Aug 29, 2016 03:05pm

W wow wow....im always bullish abt state of affairs in Pak because of our never say die attitude! There will be a day when we are all clean.

Madraswala Aug 29, 2016 03:08pm

Great job!

Rabia Aug 29, 2016 03:10pm

What an amazing project! I hope Nargis Latif's project does well and that other people take up the idea too. Its a great way to recycle.

SDA Aug 29, 2016 03:20pm

Great job woman. Bravo!

Ahmar Qureshi Aug 29, 2016 03:28pm

She's a living example of Corporate Recycle & Construction Responsibility! :-)

Awais Aug 29, 2016 03:31pm

Great job by great lady.. we must follow your footsteps!

nuzhat shireen Aug 29, 2016 03:34pm

her great idea needs publicity .

D.K. PAMNANI Aug 29, 2016 03:37pm

What a great and human job. WOW. SALTUTE TO HER

wellwisher Aug 29, 2016 03:56pm

wish you success

Mahmood Aug 29, 2016 04:18pm

Proof, one man's junk is another's treasure, or means to prosperity!

Wish her all the best.

Amer RAO Toronto Aug 29, 2016 04:22pm

Great Initiative and inspiration for many.

asif Aug 29, 2016 04:23pm

Isn't anyone up there in assemblies is feeling ashamed to see the passion and devotion of this lady?

Qamar Aug 29, 2016 04:24pm

Great job. People should come forward and help her

Syed Hussain Akbari Aug 29, 2016 04:36pm

Something constructive from a person who wants to give her input also in making the country progressive starting from garbage. Most of the citizens leave everything on the government and spend their lives in continuously criticizing it. And when such persons are abroad they even go on bashing Pakistan. Hats off for Nargis Latif Sahiba.

M.Malik Aug 29, 2016 04:41pm

An ordinary citizen is taking on the task to clean up the city, and recycle waste to be put to productive use. While the government, agencies are asleep and seem clueless about tackling the rising heap of refuse and trash piling up in all corners of this major city.

Karachi is otherwise nothing but an embarrassment as a crime-ridden, violent, unsafe, filthiest cities of the world. Successive governments, even those who call it their base, seem unable or unwilling to solve this problem - except for spending most of their time in Dubai or London.

Skeptic Aug 29, 2016 04:46pm

Taking on the such thankless task. Dealing with stinking refuse? A woman alone, doing what most men would not dare?

This is the stuff which makes great innovators and humanitarians. To solve the problem of common man and help the poor.. Such humble beginnings reminds you of Abdul Sattar Edhi - a great human being, who took on the challenge of feeding and housing widows, orphans and unwanted, homeless persons and their corpses!

Wish her every success. A very courages and daring lady indeed!

M Jamal Aug 29, 2016 04:53pm

Her project and implementation is purposeful.A light in the darkness.Hope the civil society will support her to achieve the goals.Thanks Nargis Latif.

ANAS Aug 29, 2016 04:56pm

"God will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves". Hats off to you Ma'am.

Iftikhar Anwar Aug 29, 2016 05:14pm

Great

Umair Khalid Aug 29, 2016 05:31pm

Zabardast! Atleast some one's doing something positive for the welfare of people and nature. Salute to you Madam!

seeker Aug 29, 2016 05:34pm

Very innovative and laudable. but I have some questions. How safe (especially in case of fire) are these houses? How easy are they to build? Do they leak? and so on.

Hope these initiatives work as acts like these will this world a better place. Hats off to the lady for her work.

Fahad Aug 29, 2016 05:35pm

I appreciate the efforts of Ms. Nargis Latif; no doubt It is a very BIG project with a great potential.

I would like to know more details about this project, how do they collect plastic and then converted it to the plastic items such as Tarps and Plastic Blocks and what is the Cost of it?

The above article has only highlighted this project, which could have been a very comprehensive and educational article.

Again, please share more details about it with your readers.

The end is near Aug 29, 2016 06:09pm

Great example set by this great woman for so called mayors and nazims who receive big salaries for doing nothing.

Hamaad Aug 29, 2016 06:12pm

@Fahad Agreed, there is so much more that readers would want to know about this project and how it works. Read a more detailed article about it in Al Jazeera a while ago.

Seedoo Aug 29, 2016 06:12pm

My hats off to Nargis Latif. You are the pride of the nation. It is because of people like you that we never lose hope in our beloved country. People like you should be featured on televisions to inspire the next generation of Pakistanis so that they can see the nobility in social works as compared to religious conservatism.

Ali Aug 29, 2016 06:16pm

Request to Federal and Provincial set ups to pls take a note of common man's desire.....all that we need is a 'tidier' city...in today's world is it asking a bit too much?

Zala Aug 29, 2016 06:37pm

Kudos to this lady! While shame on the government of Sindh for not cleaning up Karachi and for not helping her in the cleanliness project.

Yemeen Zuberi Aug 29, 2016 06:47pm

Nargis Latif's Gul Bahao is a great project, however, I would say that like all projects of world over, there is some space of improvement. I will request people engaged in research on plastic products to come forward and help her with their innovative ideas. They can help, for example, to make the blocks more squarish with sharp edges; or to reduce the shine of the covering material and make it paintable; to bind the blocks with hidden bandages. These people must come with a mind that helping her will be helping the poor of this country. Once again thank you Nargis.

sukhera Aug 29, 2016 06:50pm

This lady is fantastic and she came with an idea to reduce the waste and recycle it into a useful product. What a great project which employs over 100 people in a country where jobs are scarce. She needs all our support so that she does not have to borrow money from loan sharks.

Unshackle Pakistan Aug 29, 2016 06:56pm

Those crying about capitalism please realize this is a private initiative. Notice how almost all good things come from private undertakings, not the state itself.

Agha Ata Aug 29, 2016 07:10pm

I have no idea how plastic is used in bricks, but what I see in the picture shows that it might be flammable in case of fire. But it is a very good idea. Good Luck, Lady!

Muhammad Kamran Aug 29, 2016 08:07pm

Wow just wow these are the people who are making real difference. Salutes to you ma'am and thanks to dawn for publishing this.

PR MAN Aug 29, 2016 08:11pm

Admirable project.

Ahsan Gul Aug 29, 2016 08:29pm

Good business skills and thinking. City or local government need to encourage and provide refined know how for this lady to move forward.

Sarwar, USA. Aug 29, 2016 08:29pm

Well done ... but incomplete article.

GA Aug 29, 2016 09:29pm

Good job!

Syed Ahmed, Canada Aug 29, 2016 10:21pm

Wonderful. May God bless her.

Fatma Aug 30, 2016 12:35am

Ah, what a pleasure to see Ms. Latif again. I remember watching her on TV where she mentioned having an Afghan "moon bhola" son, speaking about the various ways plastic can be used and re-used.

indus30 Aug 30, 2016 12:53am

my regards for this lady

Ashraf Aug 30, 2016 02:19am

Many readers would like to know more about the project. If there is a charitable aspect to it, some would like to know how to support the cause. Any website?

Optimistic Pakistani Aug 30, 2016 02:43am

Well done. InshaAllah you will be successful

Dannish Aug 30, 2016 04:27am

Great. Love Karachi, Love Cleanliness.

jalil yousaf Aug 30, 2016 05:20am

Very proud of you.

Ateeq Aug 30, 2016 05:56am

Make Karachi Clean Again!

Dipak Aug 30, 2016 09:38am

Amazing.Hats off to you madam.May your tribe increase

Saad Khan Aug 31, 2016 01:47am

What a courageous woman. She is working towards the betterment of society. Salute to such individuals, they are the real people not what we see on media in the form of entertainment celebrities or political figures

Bilal Aug 31, 2016 03:25am

Good work, can I get her contact details, so I will try to patch up with any company who is willing to invest money in her cause.

Mea Culpa Aug 31, 2016 06:16am

We need people like this all over the world.

Acer Aug 31, 2016 06:52am

I mean, like, seriously?

Nasir Ali Sajjad Aug 31, 2016 09:42am

Impressed ! I salute to this great lady upon her attitude to clean Karachi . no doubt as for as construction engineering is concern one can raise many questions but just see the things to be an environmentalest . she may be supported by all to bring more social good and why not her work may be reflected in other cities by ngos and gos departments. Regards

Nargis Latif Aug 31, 2016 06:11pm

@Ashraf Please visit http://gulbahao.org

Nadir Latif Sep 01, 2016 10:18am

@Bilal You can send an email to gulbahao1915@yahoo.com