Volunteers Meet at Dolls of the World Exhibition

Dolls of the World from different projects are creating waves in Germany these days. Dolls were displayed for a six weeks in an exhibition (opening time 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, Monday - Friday) held in Cooperative Loan Bank in Potsdam, Germany.

The Exhibition offered an opportunities for city government to get some real good ideas, Questions and Answers sessions enables people with special interest (perhaps coming volunteers) to know about the projects from far and wide of the world and best of all, the exhibition was a meeting point for old and new volunteers. Dr. Senta Siller, Gertrud Baier, Dr. Karola Groch, Renate Perner, Sabine Piltz were seen among those who visited the exposition. Some glimpses from a week long activity:







Aid for Development


The amounts allocated in the federal budget for development aid say it all, namely that too much is being done and too little at the same time. How can that be, -only one thing can be true? And still, both are correct because for one it is too much and for the other too little.

Now, how does it look for the actively engaged people in development aid? They are mostly not thoroughly acquainted with the problems of the developing countries because they constantly make comparisons between their home and the project country und therefore very quickly develop a certain way of thinking, namely to develop themselves so much in the normally three years of participation in an overseas project, that they can build a small house of their own at home.

To these actively engaged persons also belong the diplomats, who –given the bad experiences- have to posess certain qualities, namely: be gladly in the home country and be in a position to use the German language in the foreign country. Now what does that mean? – foreign languages are learnt only later during the training process for the official post. Those posted in the foreign countries appear to hate their mother countries and therefore wake up early in the morning. Since they love security and safety of their official premises, they leave these only on arrival and departure and otherwise they are too busy in the table work or are participating in enormously important conferences and are therefore totally overloaded to even think of taking out time for not so important matters. To these not so important matters also belong the development aid projects. Their activity is mostly limited to finding paragraphs which speak against a project and to ensure employment at the base station for processing the incoming project proposals.

A pleasant side-effect is the official therapy. At home subjected to otherwise long and tedious therapy, these officials obtain official and free psychological treatment in which they are required to look after the visitors and applicants in a friendly manner and thereby ascertain their importance, which can be summed up to be zero. This strengthens the officer and makes him resistant to inter human contact.

The projects most successful are the ones in which the families involved in the project are well looked after; that’s also a sort of development aid.

Employees of the population and immigration offices are called human smugglers. They have improved their image in the meanwhile quite a lot and now offer complete immigration packages. The concerned family has to pay a certain amount of money and with that it gets a guarantee that one person from the family will get an entry visa to the desired country even without any knowledge of the language of the host country. A lot of advertisement is done in this context; the diplomatic representation or the embassy on its part does not keep one eye closed here. On the contrary, they keep their eyes wide open on their work tables and avoid in case travel in such a dangerous country.

In short: how bad it would be if these officials of the foreign ministry and the ministry for development aid were not there? - The country would have additional unemployed persons, not much but still. Moreover, the expensive therapy costs are saved by way of the residence in the foreign country, where aggressions and humanly mistakes can be let out without anyone making a fuss!

Related: With love from Cameroon

Creating Dolls






Travelers’ View of the Area

One of the first places I came to know after settling down is a village Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka near Okara. The unique claim of the village to international fame is the dolls and toys made by village women that are collectors delight all over the world. Dolls made in the village have travelled to International Dolls Museum in Amsterdam and also have been put on display in the "Themepark" at EXPO 2000 in Hannover (Germany) as one of the 767 worldwide projects - an example of thinking for 21st century. Earlier, the dolls participated in International Toy Fair in Nuremberg. These dolls show how culture goes beyond simple work of art and becomes collaboration among applied and natural sciences as well as other forces that affect our lives.

The murals are painted on the parameter mud walls in the village where doll collectors and people interested in sustainable development and rural heritage from different initiative groups come and stay as paying guests. The village folks still consider cooing crows as symbol of the arrival of the guests. Architectural competitions are held annually when best mud house is selected. The Chief Harappan Explorer Dr. Mark Kenoyer had the place on the jury in competition held last July. Two full time German volunteers, Dr Norbert Pintsch and Dr Senta Siller, and village people are working together to change the life and out look in this peaceful hamlet. near Gogera Whenever I visited the village, I saw something new, something different, which the villagers do to make difference in a place where they belong.

Relevant Readings - Women in Pakistan

Career Woman in Pakistan-Chancen and Scope in Professional Life in an Islamic Society by Khanum Gauhar Ajaz
The Eternal Message: The Elucidation of Islamic Philosophy, Life and Spiritualism by Anese Majid Khan
Rani from Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka – A Love Story by Ulrike Vestring
Thatta Kedona, The Village of Toys by Ulrike Vestring
A Village in Southern Punjab by Ulrike Vestring
Thatta Kedona-Village Toys from Pakistan by Senta Siller {48 p., ISBN 3-922878-85-4, ã 1994, DGFK (German Society for the Advancement of Culture), Berlin in Cooperation with Anjuman-e-Falah-e-Aama, Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka and SPARC (Society for the Promotion of Art and Culture), Lahore}
50 Jahre Pakistan, 1947 – 1997, Special Issue by The President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Prof Dr Roman Herzog, The Federal Minister Foreign Affairs of Germany, Dr Klaus Kinkel, H.E. Gul Haneef, Ambassador of Pakistan in the Federal Republic of Germany, President of the German-Pakistan Forum, Dr Christian Ruck (MdB), introduction by Dr M. Saeed Chaudhry, Vice President German-Pakistan Forum, and articles by Dr. Christian Wagner, Dr. Klaus Klennert, Lt.Gen.(Retd.) M. Assad Durrani, Admiral (Retd.) Iftikhar Ahmad Sirohey, General Alain Lamballe, Prof. Dr. Annemarie Schimmel, Dr. Juergen Frembgen-Javed Jabbar, Dr. Senta Siller, Prof. Dr. Norbert Pintsch and Prof. Dr. Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema} [174 p. ISBN 3 – 922 878 – 31 - 8, ã 1998, DPF (Deutsch-Pakistanisches Forum), Bonn in cooperation with DGFK (German Society for the Advancement of Culture), Berlin

Thatta Kedona - Self Help Project

The cluster of mud and brick houses in the plains of Punjab, Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka (TGD) looks like a typical Pakistani village about 80 kilometres away from Lahore and 40 kilometres from Indus civilization ruins in Harappa. There is no gas or telephone in the village. No asphalt roads lead to it. Yet it is different, the beautiful dolls and other handicrafts made by the village folks are collectors' delight all over the world. Influencers from Indus civilization from nearby Harappa and modern techniques brought by the German volunteers can be seen in the village together.

The dolls made in the village are on display in international doll museum in Iceland, prestigious galleries and showrooms in Pakistan and abroad. TGD village doll project was one of the 767 worldwide projects presented in the "Themepark" at expo 2000 in Hannover (Germany) as an example of thinking of twenty first century. Earlier, the dolls from Pakistan participated in international toy fair in Nuremberg. These dolls show how culture goes beyond simple work of art and becomes collaboration among applied and natural sciences as well as other forces that affect our lives.

Thatta Kedona is a project, first of its kind, in rural area where handmade quality dolls and toys are crafted using all indigenous material and traditional designs based on cultural and folklore themes. The workmanship of the dolls and toys has acclaimed international recognition and clientele through their participation in numerous international events, exhibitions, fairs and display at International Doll Museum Iceland and Deutsche Gesellschafr zur Foerderung der Kultar, Germany. These toys are the embodiment of dreams, hopes and most of all self-reliance of the hands, which breathe a part of the soul into them.

How all this started? A Pakistan studying in Germany, Amjad Ali who is a native of village TGD invited his German teachers Dr. Senta Siller to visit his village back home. Dr. Senta Siller along with Dr. Norbert Pinstch came to the village where they were presented a doll made by a local woman. Dr. Senta Siller was impressed by the doll and liked the natural and simple village life. She decided to work for the village; established NGO Anjumane-e-Falah-e-Aama and started community based Woman Art Centre in TGD in 1992. The aim of this centre is to involve local womenfolk in productive, creative and healthy income generating activities. For men Dr. Norbert Pintsch established Technology Transfer and Training Centre (TTTC). This created awareness and built confidence among the village folks and they started making dolls and toys on self-help biases that are marketed all over the world. The village and its residents are benefiting in the process.

This is a holistic project. Handicraft is in the spot on the stage but the project has a cultural philosophy. Education, science, agriculture, hydro-geology (drinking water project), appropriate technology, public health, economy (marketing, distribution), tourism and communication, are all in practice.

TTTC is concentrating on improved agricultural techniques and other suitable jobs for men. Also, carpenters, blacksmiths and tailors in the village are profitably involved in production for the TTTC for men. On Dr. Norbert Pintsch's arrival in Pakistan this time (November 2007), Nation took a chance to ask him about goals, the motives and motivations.

"The goals of the project are self-help activities at a grass roots levels, holistic village development, empowerment of women, income generation, and literacy and vocational training, says Dr. Norbert Pintsch. The philosophy working behind this selfless work is "preservation of cultural heritage, reduction of migration to cities by creating additional income in the village and future is in the rural areas," he added.

Dolls from Pakistan in authentic attires of the specific tribes, communities and areas and thematic toys tempt tourists and diplomats. They collect these dolls as a souvenir of the time they spent in Pakistan. "During last seven years, the Pakistani dolls have travelled in suitcases of our client to 40 different countries. They (dolls) sit in the ambassadors' residences not only in Islamabad, but accompany them to the next and second next posting. I have met TGD dolls in the Japanese ambassador's home in Jakarta and also in the German embassy in Damascus," tells Dr. Norbert Pintsch with pride and pleasure. "Part of the artists go where ever the dolls go," says a young artist. Each doll has a small plate attached carrying the name of the doll maker.

Doll making is one of the oldest and popular folk art in Pakistan. Simple stuffed dolls are made for children particularly in rural areas where people are still striving for the attainment of basic needs. The main difference of previous doll making and the modern techniques taught by Dr. Senta is that she has introduced variety in size and shapes and dresses them in colourful costumes with attentions to details. This has resulted in high quality soft toys to cater to demands of the gift market.

Work of Dr. Norbert Pintsch and Dr. Senta Siller has not only moved the people of area but also raised a spacious and simple building for the Women Art Centre and TTTC with the help of different donors. Now there are as many as 120 women from the age of 24 to 40 working in both the centres making dolls dressed in regional (Punjabi, Sindhi, Pathan, Balochi, Kashmiri and Kalash) embroider costumes, miniatures, hand knitted shawls tin rickshaws and other toys and earning their living. They are making their own lives better and strengthening their families. "They (the women) are moving towards true equality and independence" says a doll maker who has twelve year of schooling, is married in this village and working in the Centre.

Village TGD is changing. The relative prosperity has beginning to show. Villagers are putting their children, particularly the girls in school. The Woman Art Centre is also playing a part in the well being of the villagers. The Centre has provided furniture and other equipment to the primary school in village and opened a well equipped health care centre. An annual quality of life competition is held in the village when best houses are selected in three different categories.

This seems to be one of the unique and best self help project anywhere in Pakistan.


Related: Thatta TV Radio in Pakistan 

Visit to India

Dr. Senta Sillr and Dr. Norbert Pintsch were on two days visit to Amritsr, India (Sep 22-23, 2006) to explore special material for the Dolls of the World Project. In Amratsar, both the senior experts visited Khalsa College that “looks like Atchison College Lahore,” says Dr. Norbert.

They stayed at Bhandari’s Guest House – one of the three wonders in Amratsar. From the outside Gust House gives a look of Functionalism (architectural style famous in Europe in 1920s) and from inside it is Art Deco.

Pond Project


Buffalo pond is already functioning in the village. The Goal of the project is connect the (gray water) canals in different bazaars with the pond, so that grey water can run in the pond. On a special mark, the water will be pumped into the regional canal, and fresh water will be brought into the pond from the regional canal.

Thatta Kedona Artisans



Dolls Makers


Tin Toys Makers

Gross Behnitz Project