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Art is always considered as a luxury. Simple creative activities are some of the building blocks of child development. Learning to create and appreciate visual aesthetics may be more important than ever to the development of the next generation of children as they grow up.
In our country Pakistan mostly art is always considered as a hobby for the aristocrats. No one can really think that may be in the slums an artist is being born but it’s the lack of resources which can kill the dreams of any artist. In a third world country like ours it’s difficult to manage and toil against all the odds throught a day.
Whether its electricity playing peek-a-boo or the petrol mafia playing mayhem with our lives; the police cracking down on blind activists or a teenage girl being arrested or raped for blackmailing, there’s never an idle or peaceful instant in the devil’s workshop in our neck of the woods.
On the other hand, and there is always that ‘however’ that makes the world go round as they say every cloud has a silver lining. There is always a ‘but’ that urges the sun to come out on the darker days. Meet Salma Habib, the graduate of National College Arts, Lahore, Pakistan is that however and the ray of hope in such dark days which are struck by poverty, lack of education and terrorism. Salma has worked as an art therapist with many leading hospitals such as, The Indus Hospital, Aghan Khan University Hospital.
She is running a non-profitable enterprise called as ‘Taleem ko Aam Kero’ and she has chosen to work with the kids in slums and streets of Karachi. She has preferred to works with kids as she says that their minds are most probably like soft clays. As soft clay can be molded in any shape, similarly through arts one can promote education and positive social values through innovative learning opportunities among children and youth, specially marginalized and from low-income backgrounds.
A classroom can be expensive for certain people and the people who can afford it may be are not given a particular environment where there hidden talent can come out. A classroom can sometimes hinders a child’s ability to paint as it has some defined rules. Therefore Salma Habib is working with kids in the open-air where the nature can be observed. She initiated this project in 2014 in an attempt to connect with street children in the slums of the city. The philosophy of Taleem Ko Aam Karo, according to Salma, is optimism through art as it is a medium that conduits the breaches made by society. She said in an interview that “It works to provide street children with access to the arts and the ability to explore creative expression, lighting the candle of hope and knowledge in them,” she added that “the mission is to bring color to the life of kids camping out under the open sky around the city.”
She says that “the kids are full of energy and are so eager to learn that putting in effort on my part came naturally. They are all so full of love and every day I was treated with hugs and kisses from the little ones.” This positive attitude from the kids shows that there is a great potential in our nation
Every week she takes a rickshaw and randomly goes to any slum of the city, accompanied by a photographer and a lot of art material. She said in an interview given to express that she tries to make a difference in the lives of innocent children through these art therapy sessions,” she explained, adding that they learnt how to work in groups and build friendships as well as basic skills. “What they make, they get to keep as a memento.”
The motivation behind her visits to these slums is very modest. She said she “ wants the children to have the knowledge of art through these sessions, which might just become a lasting memory or help them onto a path better than the one they are already on, she said. “We must have a sense of empathy to take such initiatives to change the fate of Karachi.” The ultimate goal of this artist is to have her own studio where such children can make and sell their own art. A place where they can grow and communicate and call it a home.
We hope that in a time of turmoil there are many more ‘Salmas’ to brighten up the smiles of our children. May there be lots and lots of light their lives again. The world has a lot of good in it and our government should promote such talent and provide them with opportunities so that there can be much needed equilibrium in our society. It is because of people like Salma Habib that we hope that it is enough to keep us floating as a Nation.