Exhibition to showcase handcraft products by Afghan refugees, Pakistanis held
ISLAMABAD, May 12, 2017: Entrepreneurship and Community Development Institute (ECDI) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) are organizing a two-day exhibition with the theme ‘MAKE BEAUTIFUL THINGS’ to showcase and promote handcraft products made by Pakistani communities and Afghan refugees on May 13 and 14 in Islamabad.
The products being exhibited at the Loafology Cafe are prepared by Afghan refugees and the neighbouring Pakistani communities in Haripur and Peshawar districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during a six-month pilot programme supported under the UNHCR Refugee Affected and Hosting Area (RAHA) livelihood programmes.
ECDI designed a special product range and linked the artisans linked with manufacturers at the national level to facilitate relations between international buyers and the artisan in rural areas.
The finished collection will be sold at the exhibition in Islamabad as well as online through Polly and Other Stories, a social enterprise, to help with the technical and business side, and will target National, Regional and International markets in order to support efforts to generate livelihoods for refugees and host communities.
The pilot project, which ran from November 2016 – May 2017, worked directly with 150 artisans and a number of local and international businesses to connect artisans to a national and global value chain.
The overall project was valued at PKR 5, 500, 000, a significant portion of which went directly into the costs of designing and making the products. The line includes leather bags and totes with exquisite handwork, quilted fabric bags, high-end cotton quilts, cushions, notebooks and scarves.
Artisanal craft represents an opportunity for livelihood generation by displaced people. Materials, patterns, carving styles and other techniques are often unique to specific groups and tribes and represent deep cultural affiliations that have been passed through generations.
There is huge potential for development actors to support the harnessing of unique crafts with moving stories to create productive and sustainable livelihood opportunities for some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
The project, although short, has left considerable impact on the social cohesion between Afghan refugee and Pakistani communities as both communities have started joint production and shared in enterprise profits.