TDF Ghar (https://www.dawoodfoundation.org/tdf-ghar/)

March 18, 2020

We Karachiites are foodies!  So, when we received a circular for a Bohri food night, we jumped at it, on the roof of TDF “Ghar” (“house” in Urdu)- super dinner, pleasant weather, outstanding view of Quaid-e-Azam’s Mausoleum, typical Parsi loudness and laughter, great service by our Bohri hosts & excellent value for money!

However, what was just as interesting was TDF Ghar- one of the old, pre-partition houses in the old city of Karachi, wonderfully restored by TDF.  Quoting from TDF’s history –

“TDF Ghar was built in 1920-30’s.  This house was initially owned by a Hindu woman, Haribai Motiram, which she sold in April 1948 to Hajiani Hanifabai for her daughter Aisha Bai Dawood in June 1948 as a residence.

In April 1961 the House was donated to The Dawood Foundation.  In 1965, Ahmed Dawood established Hanifa Hajiani Haji Gani Vocational Training Center for Women.  The training center used to enroll over 150 students per batch and train them in typing, cooking, sewing, painting, hand & machinery embroidery and English language. 

TDF Ghar is open to all to promote informal learning spaces in Karachi.  TDF Ghar is based on a self-sustainability business model- revenues generated from rentals and tickets is re-invested in the upkeep and development of the Ghar.”

With a small café on premises, we experienced families, youngsters & groups socially interacting with each other; playing board games; reading; using the library.  It was an amazing experience.  It was surreal finding such an oasis in bustling Karachi!

Kudos to The Dawood Foundation for yet another public service to the citizens of Karachi … and Pakistan!

(https://dinshawavari.com/2019/08/30/ohthe-clean-clean-not-streets-of-karachi/)

“Mangroves: Custodians of the Coast” (A film by The Dawood Foundation)

March 11, 2020

I was invited by the British Council on a documentary on the ‘Mangroves of Sindh’, directed by Anam Abbas & sponsored by the Dawood Foundation- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AE5V221BvUg, alongwith a group of school children.

One of the greatest advantages of the Mangrove ecosystem are their intricate roots- they slow water flow thus protecting shorelines during storms by absorbing & reducing wave energy and water velocity respectively.

Besides being a habitat for birds and sealife, mangroves act as a natural barrier for land erosion due to currents and wave velocities.

Unfortunately, villagers in Pakistan cut down these life-saving trees for the wood and their rich, mineral-based leaves, as a fuel source and income.

‘Mangroves of Sindh’ identifies a practical SOLUTION – create cheap, alternate fuel sources for villagers. 

To change any ‘evil’, one must change the system from its roots.  While the subsequent discussions asked school children to consider careers in the Civil Services, my thoughts are we should go even further back- to the school level.  You cannot change a system if people don’t identify the threat of devastation, which can more effectively be taught from primary levels.

Malaysia uses the Mangroves forests as an eco-tourist platform, especially during monsoon seasons.  My family took a “mangrove tour” over a decade ago- a mangrove boat ride, eagle feeding and a third attraction I don’t remember now.  The government gave fisherman small engines so that when fishing was banned, they could use small boats for such tourist visits, thus earning income in off-season.

Another fantastic video is ‘The Edge of Delta’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0SJrsc32U8 by Tariq A. Qaiser.

There are small changes within our System, which can be accomplished easily and with minimal cost to the government.  IUCN, British Council and individuals are doing what they can within their resources but isn’t it time our governments stepped up to help the environment and, by extension, our coastal villages and cities?