Making a Difference
Saturday, 4 January 2014
Dr. Senta Siller is an artist and designer by profession and volunteer by choice. The results of her lifelong research and experiences were put into practice in Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka -- a clay village of 200 households in the backwaters of Punjab that is now famous around the world as the Village of Dolls.
There is a history behind this fame. Dr. Senta Siller established a Women's Art Centre and started a self help project in the remote village where she mobilized the local women and led them to make hand crafted dolls dressed in traditional attires from different provinces and regions of Pakistan; also other items and toys for collectors' delight and for the gift market. At first only women of Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka benefited from economic improvements but soon the project expanded and girls and women from other villages were integrated. Presently, the village project is working in collaboration with other NGOs in Pakistan and abroad.
The hand crafted products from the Women Art Centre are sold in Islamabad, Lahore and in Austria, New Zeeland, Canada, as well as European countries and in UN gift shops around the globe. Dr. Senta Siller has helped spread the rich culture of Pakistan through hand crafted gift items in over 40 different countries. The unique self help production in the Village not only helps rural women to generate additional income for themselves and their families but also spreads cultural wealth of Pakistan and shows how culture goes beyond geographical boundaries. The dolls and toys are art lovers' delight with marketable potentials. The products of the Village voluntary project were displayed in EXPO 2000 in Hannover in Germany as a sole worldwide project from Pakistan. It was recognized as an "exemplary" for the twenty first century. This year they are at display at Expo 2005 in Japan.
Women Arts Centre that started in the courtyard of a mud house has its own spanking new building and one of the largest solar energy facilities in Punjab. The project also includes a functional health centre, educational services and tourism facilities as a part of the holistic project. The likeminded NGOs in Cameroon, Columbia, and Iceland learnt of this project and started working in collaboration. The governments of different countries ( Germany, Canada, and Japan) are supporting Dr Senta Siller in her work. She has been awarded the title Queen Mother in the highlands of Cameroon. In Columbia she has been made an honorary member of the Yaguas -- an Amazonian Indio tribe. With the help of an Icelandic development company of which she is an honorary life member, an international doll museum was established in Iceland. Dolls from Pakistani village are on permanent display in the Museum.
Who is this woman? In addition to her work in Pakistan in the fields of arts, crafts, cultural preservation and poverty alleviation, Dr Senta Siller has had extremely successful and demanding professional life as entrepreneur, artist, scientist and director of an art school. Dr. Senta Siller was born in Vienna. One side of her family descends from the line of 'Archduke Leopold Salvator von Bourbon Habsburg Toscana' – famous Austrian nobility. After World War II, her family lived in the Bavarian countryside. Dr. Senta Siller studied design in Berlin and came to Pakistan for the first time in the sixties.
Now her time is distributed between Germany and Pakistan. In Berlin, Dr. Senta Siller is an honorary member of many cultural and professional entities. In 2001, she founded Pakistan House for the information of German citizens in Potsdam.
I have had the pleasure of working with this great woman for some time now. I have always found her inspiring, untiring, giving and caring. What is the motive of her work? "I am returning back some of what I achieved in my earlier life," she says.
posted by S A J Shirazi @ Saturday, January 04, 2014,
- At 19:09, Deb S. said...
What a wonderful woman! She is, indeed, making a difference.
- At 12:50, jalalHB said...
I salute the lady for her achievements and wish her a happy long life
- At 10:15, Kausar Bilal said...
Amazing work by an amazing women! I wish we could do similar work for our people...
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