Karachi floods: Pakistani artists launch online fundraiser

Artworks on sale during the Artists for Flood Relief (AfFRK) fundraiser on Sept. 1, 2020. (Photo courtesy: AfFRK)
Short Url
Updated 03 September 2020

Karachi floods: Pakistani artists launch online fundraiser

  • Launched on Saturday, Artists for Flood Relief is accepting artwork submissions until Friday, Sept. 4
  • Dozens of people have died since last week in what is considered the worst flooding Karachi has suffered in its history

RAWALPINDI: As recent floods have devastated Karachi and surrounding areas in Sindh province, three young Pakistani artists have launched Artists for Flood Relief, a fundraiser to help those affected by the calamity.
Numair Ahmed Abbasi, Shaheen Jaffrani and Shanzay Subzwari — graduates of Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in 2014 — could not get over the countless images of destruction they saw on social media, as homes were washed away by floodwater. Footage showed buildings and bridges submerged in water, and furniture, cars and large containers floating through the streets. Dozens of people have died since last week in what is considered the worst flooding Karachi has suffered in its history.
“Saying they were horrifying is an understatement. And this was going on while we all sat in the comfort of our bedrooms,” Abbasi said.
The 28-year-old remembered he had works from his student days, which he could sell and donate the money. He realized it was likely his schoolmates would do the same. With support from fellow artists, he, Jaffrani and Subzwari wasted no time to launch Artists for Flood Relief.
“It was immediate crisis disaster management,” Jaffrani said, “It was now or never.”
On Saturday night, Jaffrani, Subzwari and Abbasi set up an Instagram page and by Tuesday had nearly 150 submissions from artists in Pakistan, Germany, Dubai, and India. The deadline for artist submissions is Friday, Sept. 4.
The artists are working with organizations run by persons they personally know to oversee every step of the initiative and make sure all donations will serve the relief purpose. “Knowing who we were working with and maintaining control was a main concern to us,” Jaffrani said.
They have partnered with The Environmentalist, The Garbage Can, Shine Sunshine, and Food for Thought, which cover different relief needs — water draining, waste removal, food distribution — in Karachi and other affected areas in Sindh.
Artists for Flood Relief will be selling art prints for a duration of three weeks on their social media accounts on Instagram and Facebook.
They say the coronavirus outbreak has made them realize how powerful a tool the social media is with its ability to keep people connected.
“During the pandemic, we have learned the power of virtual community,” Jaffrani said.
Earlier this summer, a similar fund relief initiative, Prints for Pandemic Relief, raised nearly Rs4.5 million for Pakistanis whose livelihoods were upended by the coronavirus outbreak.
“People want to donate, but I feel like when there is a creative twist or creative element added to anything people become more enthusiastic,” Subzwari said, “For artists, their art isn’t just a pretty picture for some people.
When artists realize through their creativity they can reach out and help a bigger cause — they do it.”

Urdu comic book 'Little Master' to help Pakistani children fight COVID-19 misinformation

Updated 19 September 2020

Urdu comic book 'Little Master' to help Pakistani children fight COVID-19 misinformation

  • The book tells the story of a young boy from Karachi's Lyari, who is learning about the virus to help others
  • 'Little Master' is illustrated by Umair Najeeb Khan, the creator of Pakistan’s first superhero comic book series 'Paak-Legion'

RAWALPINDI: "Little Master," an Urdu-language comic book, is going to be released on Monday to guide Pakistani children how to stay safe amid the coronavirus pandemic and cope with COVID-19 misinformation.
Published by Mehrdar Art & Production (MAP), the book tells the story of Ahmed, a young boy from Karachi's Lyari area, who is trying to learn about the coronavirus to help keep others safe, regardless of their community background.
"Comics are a great way to tell a story positively and are really useful in countering misinformation,” Muhammad Faheem, documentary filmmaker and MAP founder, told Arab News on Saturday.

The cover of "Little Master," an Urdu-language comic book to help Pakistani children cope with COVID-19 misinformation. (Photo courtesy of Muhammad Faheem via AN)

The efforts have been funded by MAP itself and through government and private support. To illustrate "Little Master," Faheem asked for help Umair Najeeb Khan, the creator of Pakistan’s first superhero comic book series "Paak-Legion."
Thousands of copies of "Little Master" will be distributed at schools in underprivileged areas such as Lyari, where misinformation has led to blame games and community tensions that affected virus response. Some narratives even questioned the very existence of the virus and necessity to follow any precautions against it.

Umair Najeeb Khan is working on an illustration for the "Little Master" comic book in Islamabad on Sept. 19, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Umair Najeeb Khan via AN)

In May, Faheem rolled out "Hum Sab Saath, Corona ki Kilaaf" ("All of Us Together Against the Coronavirus"), a campaign through posters, social media and talks by community leaders to address the situation.
"It got to the point where relief efforts in these areas were being compromised because people were questioning who deserved help," Faheem said. "We needed to address not only the severity of what was going on but educate the citizens of these areas on what was real information to help combat the fake news and rising bigotry."
The comic book is a follow up to these efforts.
"When kids read our comics, we hope they will learn more about the pandemic and how it is a collective effort that we all have to join together, regardless of our backgrounds."