Yeh Shehr Hamara: This City of Ours

Jan 2022

Engaging young people with their heritage through a wide range of activities
Through the delivery of its programme Yeh Shehr Hamara: This City of Ours, the Faiz Foundation Trust is attracting interest from young people from across the Walled City of Lahore.  They are enthusiastically participating in the programme’s  open mic sessions, map making and bookbinding workshops, and the Instagram group that documents the Walled City. Here are some insights from Salima Hashmi, Director of the Faiz Foundation Trust. 

Learning has happened for us, sometimes in unexpected ways! 

Our participants are diverse in age, background and the areas of the Walled City they come from. Some travel long distances, others are from around the corner! 

They are full of curiosity, energy, and extremely hardworking, most of the time. An inspiration for all of us! 

The candy floss man was a surprise. He came off the street and found us. Perhaps he was looking for some customers?  He explained to all of us how he made candy floss. He also told us he was really a chef, but had lost his job because of the pandemic, so he started making candy floss.  As he put it, “one has to work doesn’t one?"

At The Faiz Foundation and British council's workshop, I have learned cartography, book binding and videography for Instagram. From this we have learned a lot and I am thankful to the Faiz Foundation for this. Thank you.

OSCH workshop participant

Bookbinding workshops

For the bookbinding workshops, the calligrapher came with his traditional tools: reed pens and lamp black ink.  Everyone wanted to try the pens and ink to write their names. He taught them the traditional script, which was fascinating and created a lot of excitement! 

One day, we discovered a beautiful old building (haveli) very close to us that was not documented by WCLA. In a rather fragile condition, it had mirror work on the walls, little niches in the rooms and on the ceiling. It was quite an adventure to find it hidden away close to our site. We were led to it by Sheraz [Shani] and Mohsin, our partners from the neighborhood. 

One of the girls noticed they hadn’t put any animals in their pictures. She said, “We have two cats in our street. I am going to put in the cats!” 

On the first day of the project, we visited the Shahi Hamaam [The Royal Baths].  Some of the children who live on that street had never been inside …’the ticket is 50 rupees’ they told us. So finally, they went inside and saw the Hamaam. They stood in wonder. Perhaps WCLA could consider having a free day or evening for children from the Walled City once a month? 

Storytelling

One child told us there were only two trees in the Walled City! This was not something we had noticed. We discovered it was certainly true of the area we are working in. One large tree stands in the Sabeel Wali Gali, the site for our storytelling and Open Mic, the other tree stands in the Outer Courtyard of the Wazir Khan Mosque. Perhaps our next project could incorporate starting a plantation project with our participants? 

Instagram

The Instagram group has taken off with great enthusiasm and energy! The group has been deeply involved in trying to understand and master all the available tools within the cell phones. The discussions about composition, balancing the background, foreground and points of emphasis have been intense with lots of input from everyone. Coming up with ways of documentation which are personal to each individual has been a learning curve.  Some very meticulous and expressive documentation has occurred. The participants are very keen for their videos to be added to the WCLA website and were delighted to know there would be an exhibition at the end of the project in which their work would be viewed! One participant wants to be a traveller and have her own blog. She has joined the group to learn how to make professional videos. She especially wants to travel and discover the Northern areas of Pakistan.