KARACHI: “I first crossed over to Pakistan from Afghanistan 18 years ago. For eight years I lived in Quetta not doing much. Then I returned to Afghanistan before coming back here again,” said Sharifa from Qandahar, one of the skilled refugee artisans who had come to receive her remuneration at Amir and Huma Adnan’s place on Wednesday.
The programme organised by Craft Stories, a jewellery line collection, in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also included a brief audio-visual presentation about the journey of the refugees from being refugees to skilled and creative artisans and a display of the crafted ornaments made by them.
Getting on with her story, Sharifa told Dawn that when she returned to Pakistan, she travelled to Karachi, where she now lives in Metroville. “I first met Huma Adnan at the UNHCR office. She was offering training to create these pretty items of jewellery using thread, beads, etc. I signed on for the training,” she said.
“After receiving three month’s training, I started working at home to make pieces. Then when the Craft Stories project launched formerly, I also provided training to some 20 other women refugees,” she said, adding that the money they earned depended on the number of pieces they made.
Muneeba Noor, a Rohingya refugee in Korangi and one of Sharifa’s students too, said that her family had been living in Karachi since even before she was born. “My father fled from Myanmar with my grandfather when that country was called Burma. My father married here and I was born here but I have a UNHCR refugee card and no Pakistani identity. Still, I am glad I am able to learn fine arts at the Memon Institute. I am also doing my Matric privately,” she said, adding that she heard about the training when she was at the UNHCR office to get her refugee card renewed.
“It’s great that I have learnt a new craft, which is helping me earn some extra money, which my family can really use as my father has also passed away now,” she said.
Meanwhile, at the event most people, men included, were wearing Craft Stories jewellery which they had all bought. According to Parishae Adnan, Huma and Amir Adnan’s daughter, they have sold more than 600 pieces which include necklaces, bangles and bracelets.
Huma Adnan said that she had always wanted women to understand their potential which they could then nurture to help them realise their dreams. “These women have their own hopes and aspirations and we as fashion influencers can help them here. My brand already utilises local as well as foreign crafts from all over the world and this project has brought me more happiness as I help the refugee women polish their craft as well as train them in entrepreneurship. The money they make empowers them financially.”
Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2019