Taking cue from a positive effort of India is amazing, said a passer-by while recording a video of the young people cleaning the streets at Sir Syed Road.
Twenty-five zealous students of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) from different departments and classes woke up early on Sunday to clean the area and paint its walls. ‘Project Cleanistaan’, as they call it, is a collaborative effort of IBA and Abdoz Arts.
The woman recording the video was reminded of the Ugly Indians (an anonymous group of motivated volunteers who clean Indian streets), by the endeavour undertaken by the college students. “Such acts of these youngsters should put to shame the administration that enjoys in their air-conditioned offices,” she said while speaking to The Express Tribune.
Earlier this month, students of the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVS) conducted a clean-up activity to uplift Street 33, Block 2, Clifton. These students then nominated IBA and challenged them to do the same.
Wearing gloves and masks and equipped with broomsticks, paint brushes and garbage disposal bags, the students of IBA embarked on a journey to cleanse Sir Syed Road of garbage and its walls of ugly graffiti.
“Cleaning and trying to get the lights and magic of this city back was the objective behind the activity,” said Wafa Isfahany, a student of IBA, while picking up the garbage bags.
Seeing the young enthusiasts working hard to remove garbage, residents of the area and passers-by joined in. Others were less hands on and made videos and took pictures of the activity.
“People here keep their houses clean and streets dirty,” said Parveen Chaudhary, who has been living in the area since 1986.
“It’s not just the government and the system,” said a young man who lives near the street. “It’s also us who are responsible for the unhygienic environment in Karachi.”
While the garbage-removing activity was on full swing in the area, members of Abdoz Arts took to the walls. Artwork combined with inspirational messages, particularly related to social issues like child labour, education and women empowerment, were beautifully rendered on the walls. The sidewall of the street, that had political graffiti and advertisements scribbled on it, was whitewashed.
“We will be doing the same activity in different areas as well,” said one of the members painting the wall. “It’s just a beginning of a long journey.”
“Graffiti is not only political slogans. It can also be beautifully portrayed like we are doing here,” said Abdoz co-founder Umer Asim while facilitating a mural against child labour.
According to Abdoz’s other founder, Humble Tariq, the idea is to reform and bring positive messages to Karachi’s walls. “We will be nominating different universities for this project and Abdoz Arts is going to have a wall art festival in which several walls, defaced with wall chalking, will be transformed into beautiful murals.”
A former resident of the area, Hamid Mayet, said that he is overwhelmed by the work. “I appreciate Abdoz Arts on starting this wall art festival in collaboration with different universities”.
A young boy playing cricket nearby stopped to take a look. “The best part is the inspirational messages they are trying to give through their wall art.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2014.