An exhibition of photographs, covering a wide range of projects, by the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF), ranging from the October 2015 earthquake in Khyber-Pakhtunkhuwa to projects with street children and working children in Peshawar went on display at Pakistan National Council of Arts on Thursday.
The exhibition titled, Taking Action Together, features the works of Sara Farid who ventured on a two and a half month journey across different cities and districts of Pakistan to capture the various projects from across Pakistan, capturing the impact of their work and telling stories of how this work has made a difference as well as changed individuals and communities for the better.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Policy and Communications Advisor PHF Nargis Khan said that it “isn’t about just coming in and quickly completing a project and leaving; it is about ongoing and continual work with communities for future development pertaining to education, emergency response, health and other issues”.
In 2015, these International Non-Governmental Organisation’s programmes reached 22 million people in Pakistan with services and assistance.
She stated that photography is a very powerful medium as compared to a report and “tells a story, not just of a project but of people and their communities and gets better reach”.
“It truly represents the situation of people, the show the trauma people in those communities are going through and photographs are generally able to communicate better with the viewer”, Khan added.
PHF Chairman Ashraf Mall said that the idea behind the photo exhibition is to highlight the difference that can be made in people’s lives when we work together to build stronger communities. “Our partnerships with the government, communities and civil society not only enrich our programmes but most importantly also showcase the unique spirit of people when faced with challenges,” he added.
Sara Farid, the photographer, said that this project was an eye opening experience for her. “I had not been to Thar and Kailash Valley earlier and the situation there was an eye opener. As a journalist, I have been doing similar stories but this project was emotionally consuming because you cannot just go and photograph people in communities in a day. One has to spend time and connect with them to be truly able to tell their stories through a photograph”, she said.
Talking about the challenges, Sara said that getting these people to reach a comfort level where they let you photograph them is a challenge in itself.
She further said that the toughest project was the one that involved street children. “These children work all day and their fathers are drug addicts, which is why they don’t look up to their parents for support. So in a project initiated to help these children, a school was formed where they work to be able to teach them for four hours every day, where they are given education and vocational skills”, she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2016.