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Fauzia Minallah: Creating Images That Promote Tolerance And Compassion

The theme of “Art For Peace” was discussed on Pakistan Television’s PTV World talk show “Defence & Diplomacy”, hosted by S. M. Hali. The guests included artist Jamal Shah, Rachel Goldberg and Fauzia Minallah.

During the show, Fauzia talked about how she came to create the character “Amai”, who is a friend of children and is featured in her story book Sadako’s Prayer as well as in other works. Fauzia’s paintings and slate work were also featured in the programme.

ART FOR PEACE discussion on ‘Defence & Diplomacy” from Funkor on Vimeo.

Speaking about the character “Amai”, Fauzia said,

I wanted to focus on producing work for children, and creating images that would promote tolerance and compassion, because that is something I really feel we need in Pakistan; and for that I came up with new tools, like creating a cartoon character for them. It’s called Amai the bird of flight. She is a tiny bird but she can magically turn into a shooting star and take children on amazing adventures where they meet children from different cultures and religions.

Speaking about the distribution of her book, Sadako’s Prayer, to displaced children following the earthquake in Pakistan in 2005, Fauzia explained,

Actually, this was supported by an NGO in Hiroshima; and they have translated the book in different languages. In Pakistan it was distributed in Urdu; and they were given free of cost in the earthquake areas – because this is a true story, it’s an example that one can give to children. It’s not something that hasn’t happened and you are just making up a story. So one can tell children that even when things are destroyed for you, when you lose everything there is always hope. And human beings have a choice: either they are filled with rage and they react in the same way, or they start constructing their shattered lives. So it’s for you to decide what kind of life you want to lead.

So this was given to children and  distributed among 5,000 children in different schools. And then it was translated in Dali and distributed in Afghanistan. It’s also available in Japanese. And in Pakistan we have it in Pashtun and a language called Torwalli, which is in Kohistan, SWAT.

Fauzia went on to explain why it is important to give children stories and images of hope:

It is very important to give these stories and examples to children in a place like Pakistan where there is constant conflict and there is violence. You have to give an alternative to children. You have to give them images of hope, so for me, an art practitioner, it is my responsibility. Do I want to be one of thousands who are already teaching hatred and glorification of violence in the name of nationalism or ideology, or [do] I want to be one of the few who would like to give these images? So I have decided that these are the images I am going to give to children.

Fauzia Minallah is the founder of Funkor Childart Center and works on community-based art projects with children to promote interfaith harmony.

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