Special Report: Syed Nizam ud din Chishti, Frankfurt Germany

There are many commendable examples between Pakistan and Germany relations at the state, political and people to people level in the last 70 years and both countries enjoyed their relations in various sectors too.

In these tremendous relations between both countries, the name of Dr Katherina Martha Pfau (September 9, 1929 – August 10, 2017) is a very big example, who played her proactive and humanitarian role to eradicate leprosy from Pakistan. She was also known in Pakistan as the Leprosy Lady for spending more than half of her life helping leprosy patients in Pakistan. Pakistan conferred Sitara-i-Quaid-i-Azam upon her to recognise her selfless work.

Similarly, German ambassadors, Consul Generals and other diplomats stationed in Pakistan at different times have been expressing their love, respect and attachment to Pakistan, Pakistani people and different cultures.

But the name of German national female graphic designer and teacher Dr Senta Siller is also given respect in Pakistan, who changed the lives of people, especially women, in Thatta Ghulamka Dheeroka, a small village in Okara District, Punjab Province, Pakistan. Dr Senta Siller is the founder of the ongoing Pak-German development project in the village, which began 25 years ago with a craft centre called the Women’s Art Center.

In 1990, Dr Senta Siller visited Thatta Ghulamka Dheeroka village in Okara for the first time with her husband at the invitation of her student Amjad Ali and was inspired by the hospitality and lifestyle of the villagers and decided to work for the development of the village, especially for women.

Amjad Ali was the Student of Dr Senta Siller, who first knew her as a teacher at the prestigious applied arts institution Lette Verein in the German capital, Berlin, some 37 years ago.

In an interview with Deutsche Welle and Dawn, Dr Senta Siller stated that she was wanted to empower women by further promoting handmade dolls and other handicrafts in the village. She said that in this regard a training centre for handicraft training was set up in the village which was named as Senta Siller Art Center (SSAC) where women were trained in making dolls and other items by handmade and now more than 100 products are being created in the village, which also shows the different cultures of Pakistan.

Dr Senta Siller introduced the handmade dolls and other products of the village in other European cities, including Germany, and thus the dolls of this village became famous all over Europe. After which this village came to be known as ‘Doll Village of Pakistan’ and She called ‘Mother of Doll’.

She inspired women and girls to dream big and then helped them realize their dreams. The village girls began earning their livelihood while working from home. In some cases, the village girls made more money than their male relatives.

Dr Senta Siller organized more than 500 exhibitions, shows and events for income generation for women in rural areas. Since 1991, Dr Siller has voluntarily promoted self-help projects that enable women to earn an independent income. Residents learnt from her to make exportable dolls in the traditional costumes of the local ethnic groups. A special feature of these projects is the altruism of the foreign volunteers involved.

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The services of German fashion designer Dr Senta Siller to empower the women of Thatta Ghulamka Dheeroka are unforgettable. Dr Senta Siller has been awarded numerous national and international awards to empower the women of Pakistan such as Floriade (the Netherlands), Gestaltetes Spielgut (Creative Toys-German Toy Industry), Bundesverdienstkreuz (highest civil order of merit of the Federal Republic of Germany), IWSA Silver Medal, Izmir, Turkey, UNESCO Award, Seal of Excellence, Islamabad, Pakistan and TriPlex-Decoration in Cameroon for project work. After her retirement, she lives in a small town called Noun in Brandenburg and is happy to remember the precious moments he spent in Pakistan.

Dr Sental Siller also made efforts for drinking water supply in the village. With financial support from the Lions Club and several other organisations, a 406-foot-deep well was bored in the village. The water was tested at laboratories in Islamabad and Okara and found suitable for drinking.

Dr Senta Siller visited the village this year and met the women trainees from her institution and was delighted to see their ongoing work. On November 17, 2021, the German Embassy in Pakistan paid rich tribute to Dr Senta Siller for working on various projects for the empowerment of women in rural Pakistan. This is an excellent example of the friendly diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Germany, how strong the relations between the two countries are at the grassroots level and the people of both countries have immense love and respect for each other in their hearts.

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